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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 July 2007, 15:09 GMT 16:09 UK
Review needed after boy's death
Gareth Myatt
Gareth Myatt died just three days into his sentence
The coroner in the case of a boy who died after being restrained in a detention centre has written to the government demanding urgent action.

Gareth Myatt, 15, from Staffordshire, choked to death while being restrained at Rainsbrook training centre, near Daventry, Northamptonshire, in 2004.

Richard Pollard, who sat as coroner, has called for a review of physical restraint and control techniques.

He said the views of children on restraints should also be considered.

Gareth died from "positional asphyxia" after choking on his own vomit as he was held down.

The hold used to restrain him has since been banned by the Home Office.

An inquest jury last month ruled that Gareth's death was accidental.

It said, however, that failure to look at the potential dangers of restraint methods was one of the factors in the death.

Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre
Gareth Myatt was sent to Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre

Jurors criticised officials at the Youth Justice Board (YJB) for failing to review the safety of the Physical Control in Care (PCC) restraints, which they said was one of the causes of his death.

Retired judge Richard Pollard, who presided over the six-week inquest, has written a 17-page letter to the Justice Secretary Jack Straw outlining 34 recommendations for the future care of children serving custodial sentences.

In the letter Judge Pollard calls on the Ministry of Justice and the YJB to start an immediate review of all techniques of physical restraint and control.

The letter also asks them to publicly clarify where the responsibility for "physical control in care" lies.

'Fit for purpose'

He said: "All those involved in the STC (Secure Training Centre) system need to consider very carefully and very regularly how they can learn lessons from what happened to Gareth Wyatt ... and how they can prevent another trainee dying as a result of physical restraint."

Judge Pollard said the views of children must be taken into consideration in all reports on the use of restraint, with details of the use and effects reported to Parliament.

Following criticism from jurors, the system of monitoring the care of children should also be reviewed, added Mr Pollard, to see "whether or not the YJB is, with regard to the safety of trainees, 'fit for purpose"'.

Despite a commitment by the Home Office in 1998 when the restraint system was introduced that safety would be constantly reviewed, no such review was ordered until the month before Gareth's death.




SEE ALSO
Criticism over youth jail death
28 Jun 07 |  England
Inquest into jail death adjourned
21 Mar 07 |  Northamptonshire
Guard tells of youth jail death
07 Mar 07 |  Northamptonshire
Restraint death jury visit jail
02 Mar 07 |  England

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