Page last updated at 15:34 GMT, Monday, 28 July 2008 16:34 UK

Youth restraint tactics abolished

Feltham Young Offenders Institution
The physical restraint methods had attracted some controversy

Physical restraint methods used on young people in custody and introduced by the government last year have been abolished by the Court of Appeal.

Three judges decided that the rules at Secure Training Centres in England and Wales breached human rights.

Methods used involved pulling back thumbs, and blows to the ribs and nose.

The Ministry of Justice said it was "examining the court's judgement with great care" and added that it would also be "considering an appeal".

It comes after Lord Justice Buxton said the methods used had amounted to "inhuman and degrading treatment" contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights.

He said the High Court should have quashed the regulations after it had found they had been brought in without proper consultation.

Duties breached

The judges also ruled that the rules also breached duties to consult the children's commissioner and carry out a race equality impact assessment.

Private companies run four STCs in England and Wales for the Department of Justice.

Until June 2007, the rules restricted the use of physical restraint to cases where the approach was necessary for the prevention of escape, damage to property or injury.

The new rules, which were introduced after the deaths in custody of Gareth Myatt, 15, in Northamptonshire and Adam Rickwood, aged 14, in Co Durham allowed restraint when it was thought necessary to ensure good order and discipline.

In February, the High Court ruled that the approach breached duties under the law but refused to quash them.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission, responding to the ruling, said the Ministry of Justice must now overhaul its rules.

Maintaining good order and discipline at a secure establishment is essential if those who live and work there are to be kept safe
Ministry of Justice

Its demand came after it intervened in the case of Child C - brought to challenge the use of restraint in secure training centres following the deaths of the two youths in separate centres in 2004.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: "Maintaining good order and discipline at a secure establishment is essential if those who live and work there are to be kept safe.

"We are examining the court's judgement with great care and we are considering an appeal."

Following the ruling, Liberal Democrat justice spokesman David Howarth said the full extent of physical restraint being used was "absolutely shocking", adding that "it's right that it is put to an end".

"It's a shame that it has taken the courts to force the government to stop this barbaric practice. Ministers should have done this a long time ago," he said.

Gareth Myatt, from Staffordshire, choked to death while being restrained at Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre, near Daventry, Northamptonshire, in 2004.

And an inquest into the death of Adam Rickwood ruled that the teenager hanged himself after being restrained while at the Hassockfield Secure Training Centre in County Durham in 2004. He was the youngest person to die in custody in Britain.


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