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Prisoners (Strait-Jackets)

Volume 649: debated on Thursday 23 November 1961

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will detail the general circumstances in which strait-jackets are used in Her Majesty's Prisons; and whether appropriate treatment by tranquillising drugs is used as an alternative.

In accordance with Rule 49 of the Prison Rules, 1949, a loose canvas restraint jacket, of a pattern approved by the Secretary of State, in which the arms are held down the sides, may be used in prisons when it is necessary to restrain a prisoner suffering from a mental disturbance to avoid his injuring himself or others, or damaging property, or creating a disturbance. It may only be used on medical grounds on the written order of the prison medical officer.If the jacket is kept on for a period of 24 hours (apart from short temporary releases) it must then be removed for at least one hour and may not be reapplied without the authority in writing of a member of the visiting committee or board of visitors, or a commissioner or assistant commissioner. Standing orders enjoin that every effort must be made to avoid recourse to mechanical restraints, and full particulars of each occasion must be recorded and reported; these are summarised in the Commissioners' Annual Reports.Tranquillising drugs may be used as an alternative in appropriate cases.