Young Offenders: Restraint

House of Lords written question – answered at on 30 October 2013.

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Photo of Baroness Stern Baroness Stern Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many times (1) handcuffs, and (2) escort chains, were used on children by (a) escort providers transporting children to or from custodial settings, and (b) staff in custodial settings, during the latest 12-month period for which figures are available, and during the three preceding 12-month periods.

Photo of Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Lords Spokesperson (Department of Business, Innovation and Skills), Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

The safety of young people in custody is our highest priority. The Government is clear that restraint should only ever be used upon young people as a last resort where it is absolutely necessary to do so and where no other form of intervention is possible or appropriate. The application of ratchet handcuffs and escort chains must always be reasonable and proportionate.

Handcuffs in the under-18 secure estate can be used:

- by escort providers when transporting young people to custody from courts;- in custody when managing an incident of restraint;- when young people are being escorted outside of custody (for example, attending a hospital appointment).

In establishments

Secure Children’s Homes (SCHs)

The YJB does not collect data on the handcuffs from SCHs, therefore no data is available to report for this sector. SCHs do not currently use handcuffs as part of restraint procedures.

Secure Training Centres (STCs)

The data in the table below relates to instances within STCs where handcuffs were used during restraint:

Table 1: Number of times handcuffs have been used for young people in STCs during restraint
Number of uses of handcuffs 2013-14 commissioned places Oct 08Sep 09 Oct 09Sep 10 Oct 10 - Sep 11 Oct 11Sep 12 Oct 12Sep 13
Hassockfield 58 8 10 21 2 23
Medway 76 0 0 0 0 00
Oakhill 80 0 0 0 0 00
Rainsbrook 87 0 0 0 0 00
Secure Training Centres Total 301 8 10 21 2 23

Young Offender Institutions (YOIs)

The data in the table below relates to instances within under-18 YOIs where handcuffs are used during restraint:

Table 2: Number of times handcuffs have been used on offenders under 18 held in YOIs when managing an incident of restraint
Establishment 2013-14 commissioned places1 Nov 09-Sep 10 Oct 10-Sep 11 Oct 11-Sep 12 Oct 12-Sep13
Castington1 128 33
Cookham Wood 131 135 120 128 130
Downview2 16 1 1 3
Eastwood Park2 16 1 0 0
Feltham 240 27 10 19
Hindley 440 38 85 84 89
Huntercombe1 270 25
New Hall2 9 0 1 1
Parc 64 0 1 6 2
Warren Hill 192 49 31 38 47
Werrington 160 45 78 74 126
Wetherby 396 55 102 83 71
Grand Total 380 445 419 486


Castington decommissioned April 2010. Huntercombe decommissioned July 2010


Downview decommissioned August 2013, Eastwood Park decommissioned July 2013, New Hall decommissioned July 2013

Figures for the number of times handcuffs have been used on young people held in these establishments is not available prior to November 2009. It is not possible to provide figures for split-site YOIs (Downview, Eastwood Park, Feltham and New Hall) prior to October 2010 because handcuff data collated before October 2010 from split-sites was not separated out for young people and young adults.

Werrington started taking remanded young people during the period November 12 - September 13 which may account for the increase in usage at that establishment. Ashfield re-roled from a juvenile establishment to an adult prison in July 2013 and historical data relating to the use of handcuffs is not readily available.

Individual establishments are responsible for managing incidents as safely as possible, which may lead some to use handcuffs more than others. There may also be environmental factors that contribute to the use of handcuffs - for example the physical layout of units.


Escorts - under-18 YOIs

The Prison Escort and Custody Service (PECS) transports young people from court to under-18 YOIs, including those on split sites. Data on handcuff use during transport is not collated centrally. Assembling the information would involve scrutinising the records of all young people escorted during the period in question and this could not be done without incurring disproportionate cost.

Escorts - SCHs/STCs

Up to September 2012 Reliance operated a contract for escorting sentenced young people only to both SCHs and STCs. Since September 2012, Serco have operated a new escort contract which from December 2012 also included a requirement to escort young people who are remanded to STC’s and SCH’s.

Prior to December 2012 young people remanded to STC’s and SCH’s were escorted under arrangements made by individual local authorities and there is no data available for the use of handcuffs for those arrangements.

Table 3: Available data on the number of times handcuffs have been used for escorting young people to and from court to SCHs and STCs. Data prior to December 2012 does not include those young people who were remanded to custody and were escorted using local authority arrangements.
YJB Escort Providers Jan 10Sept 10 Oct 10 - Sep 11 Oct 11 - Sep 12* Oct 12 - Sep 13
SCH/STC escorting handcuff use 29 366 298 702
Number of escorts** 1739 3484
Use of handcuffs as a percentage of escorts 17% 20%

* Data for August 2012 is not available.

** Data on total number of escorts for periods prior to October 2011 is not available.

Prior to September 2010, Reliance submitted data on the use of handcuffs only in response to incidents which occurred during the escort (i.e. in the vehicle). From September 2010, Reliance began recording all uses of handcuffs e.g. precautionary uses of handcuffs within the court or hospitals, or within the establishment when moving through insecure areas (usually at the direction of the court/establishment etc).

As escort arrangements for young people remanded to STCs and SCHs were managed by local authorities prior to December 2012 no data is centrally available on these escorts before that date. From December 2012, Serco assumed responsibility for escorting young people remanded to STCs and SCHs and began reporting this data. The inclusion of remanded young people explains the increase in the number of times handcuffs were used in the period October 2012 to September 2013 although as a percentage of overall escorts the latest period is broadly comparable with the previous year.

Escort chains

Both PECS and under-18 YOIs can use escort chains in limited circumstances following individual risk assessments. Escort chains are not used in every instance where handcuffs are assessed as necessary.

No data is collected centrally on the use of escort chains by PECS or by NOMS and therefore is not available to report without disproportionate cost.

For young people being transported to/from STCs and SCHs under the Serco contract, escort chains are used for purposes of decency when a child or young person is handcuffed due to high levels of risk. Escort chains will be used on every occasion where a child or young person is handcuffed and has the need to use the toilet, and the toilet is not in the designated secure area. This is risk assessed by the Serco Escort Service staff and is likely to include hospitals or courts. There have been no uses of escort chains since the beginning of the contract from September 2012.

All figures have been drawn from administrative IT systems, which, as with any large scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing and can be subject to change over time.

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