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Custody

Volume 449: debated on Wednesday 19 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures are taken to liaise with the families of children and young adults in custody in order to better assess their vulnerability and risk of self-harm or suicide. (86221)

Under the Youth Justice Board's National Standards, youth offending teams have a duty to involve parents in the completion of the ASSET assessment form and pre-sentence report that must be compiled on a young person under 18 who appears in court. If the young person is sentenced to custody, there is a requirement under the national standards for parents to be invited to participate in the training planning process. Establishments are also required to consult and inform parents during the young person's stay is custody.

The Prison Service requires that local suicide and self-harm prevention strategies should set out procedures relating to receiving, recording and passing information coming into the establishment from families, agencies and other parties outside the establishment who have a concern for a person in custody who may be at risk of suicide or self-harm. Prison Service staff are encouraged to involve families in the care planning of at-risk prisoners.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the approved methods of restraint are for children and young adults in custody; what safety instructions are issued to prison officers; how many incidents of harm resulting from unauthorised restraint have been recorded in the past five years; how many officers have been subject to disciplinary action arising from restraint incidents; and if he will review current practice. (86251)

The method of restraint authorised for use in young offender institutions is known as “Control and Restraint”. All prison officers receive initial training and annual refresher training in the use of Control and Restraint. The method of restraint approved for use in secure training centres is known as “Physical Control in Care”. Custody officers in secure training centres receive initial training and at least annual refresher training in these techniques. Secure children’s homes are responsible for commissioning their own physical restraint training; these methods are not subject to approval by the Secretary of State. Full information on the number of incidents of harm resulting from unauthorised restraint, and on officers subject to disciplinary action arising from restraint incidents, is not collected centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

The Youth Justice Board has undertaken a wide-ranging review of behaviour management and the use of physical restraint. In February 2006, the board issued a Code of Practice on Managing Children and Young People’s Behaviour in the Secure Estate. All establishments have been assessed for performance against the code and have drawn up improvement plans. The board is closely monitoring compliance with the code. As part of its review, the board also reassessed the techniques approved for use in secure training centres and is piloting a modified system of Control and Restraint for use in young offender institutions for under 18-year-olds. The overall review is still in progress; the Youth Justice Board is currently working to improve the quality and range of data relating to behaviour management across the estate for children and young people.