Friday, March 31, 2023

A reminder that the UK already uses restraint on children in the care system

There has, rightly, been an outcry against the Home Office announcement that child asylum seekers will be forcibly restrained if they 'resist deportation'. But we shouldn't forget that restraint is widely used on children living in the care system.

In July 2021, Children & Young People Now reported:

Dozens of MPs have joined forces to call on the government to ban the use of handcuffs on children in care.

Ministers are backing the Hope Instead of Handcuffs campaign, launched by Emily Aklan, chief executive of children’s social care provider Serenity Welfare, which is calling for legislation allowing a child in care to be handcuffed during secure transportation to be scrapped.

It is currently legal for private transport providers to physically restrain children at their discretion without the accountability of regulation or monitoring of restraint.  

The magazine quoted the Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy, who had tabled a parliamentary motion stating that a child who has not committed or is not suspected of committing a crime should not be placed in handcuffs or any other form of physical restraint:

"The rising use of restraint against children in the care system reflects a whole series of policy failures and wider lack of early intervention. If we're going to keep children safe, we need transparency about how they're being treated. 
We must shine a light on practices which have been allowed to stay in the dark away from public knowledge for far too long and start acting to stop the social care system causing further harm to already vulnerable children and young people."

Emily Aklan, who launched Hope Instead of Handcuffs, said:

“I’ve seen far too many children with red marks around their wrists with massive distrust towards the system which is supposed to be helping them. 
But with no need to monitor and report any use of handcuffs and safeguarding issues preventing children from being able to share their stories, it’s been incredibly difficult to prove just how widespread this issue is.”

Concern over the lives of children in the care system does break out now and then, though it tends not to last long, but there was some good news last year.

As I blogged at the time, Wales became the first UK nation to protect children from being handcuffed or restrained when being transported between care settings.

No comments: