June saw the publication of a report by the charity The Howard League for Penal Reform entitled ‘The Carlisle Inquiry, 10 Years On’ (pdf). Using official Government statistics to compare levels of restraint in 2010 to those in 2015, the report found that “children held in custody in England and Wales are twice as likely to have force used against them by staff than they were five years ago”. The report also found that some children were placed “in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day”.
In January 2010, the restraint rate in one month was “13 per 100 young people”, in 2015 this figure had risen to “29.3 in 100 by January 2015”. The report also found that a fifth of all recorded incidents involved use of the “head-hold” technique”. On a more positive note, the report did find that the number of children in custody had reduced.
Frances Crook, the Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “there is much to celebrate in the story of children in conflict with the law because the numbers are significantly reduced, but still children in custody are mistreated, abused, and suffer a punishing regime.”
While the decrease in the numbers of children in custody is encouraging, the statistics around the use of force and restraint is a concern. The Restraint Reduction Network will continue to monitor the development of this story and look for opportunities to engage with policy and decision-makers to offer our expertise around reducing the use of restraint.