Restraint of Children (UNCRC Recommendation)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 14 September 2023.

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Photo of Daniel Johnson Daniel Johnson Labour

5. To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking in response to the recommendation by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child to

“develop statutory guidance on the use of restraint on children to ensure that it is used only as a measure of last resort and exclusively to prevent harm to the child or others and monitor its implementation”. (S6O-02516)

Photo of Jenny Gilruth Jenny Gilruth Scottish National Party

I am aware of Mr Johnson’s long-standing interest in the subject, and I know that he will agree that all children and young people have the right to be treated with respect and to be safe, as do the staff who work with them. Any use of restraint must be carried out with regard to the welfare of the child. That is provided for in the guidance that is already in place in education, custody, mental health and care settings that is aimed at controlling and limiting the use of restraint.

As Mr Johnson will know, we consulted on draft guidance on physical intervention in schools, and I intend to publish revised guidance in due course. We are also exploring options to strengthen the legal framework in this area, including by placing the guidance on a statutory footing. I will be happy to discuss that with him when we meet next week.

Photo of Daniel Johnson Daniel Johnson Labour

I thank the cabinet secretary for her very welcome remarks. She will be aware that I have a consultation open on a member’s bill on the subject. Does she agree that the UN committee’s comments, and the fact that Northern Ireland is now consulting on the issue, change the context? Does she also agree that we need to have robust reporting standards, as well as training standards for teachers, rather than just guidance, if we are to make progress in this area?

Photo of Jenny Gilruth Jenny Gilruth Scottish National Party

I am aware of the consultation that Daniel Johnson is engaged in on a possible member’s bill on use of restraint and seclusion in schools. His point about the context changing in other parts of the UK, which are looking at what more they might be able to do, is valid. I look forward to considering in further detail his proposed member’s bill. I will meet Mr Johnson next week to discuss some of the detail.

Mr Johnson mentioned reporting standards and training standards, particularly in relation to teacher education. I am keen to discuss both those topics in more detail with him when we meet next week.