Children in privately-run youth detention centres are being seriously injured whilst being restrained by staff, according to a redacted Ministry of Justice report released to the Director of the children’s rights charity Article 39. The report focuses on four secure training centres (STCs) and two young offender institutions (YOIs) – the worst three of which are all run by G4S.
The report lists ‘restraints-gone-wrong’, where children were injured or suffered breathing difficulties in the process. Rainsbrook SCT – where teenager Gareth Myatt died in 2004 after choking on his own vomit while being restrained – had the highest number of incidents of serious injury caused. One child vomited from a prolonged restraint whilst being held in a seated position similar to the one used on Myatt. Government guidelines classify vomiting during restraint as a medical emergency.
Carolyne Willow, Director of Article 39, has been engaged in legal proceedings against the MoJ for access to an unredacted version of the manual ‘Minimising and Managing Physical Restraint’, published in 2012, which details the restraint techniques used in STCs and YOIs. However, the Upper Tribunal recently dismissed her appeal in Willow v Information Commissioner & Ministry of Justice , holding that disclosure of the information would threaten the good order and security of prisons, as inmates might develop countermeasures to the techniques.
Willow had argued – unsuccessfully – that Article 3(1) of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Children required a greater emphasis to be placed on the child’s interests when balancing them against the public interest.
It came to light last week that Medway SCT – the subject of a BBC Panorama exposé aired in January this year which showed G4S staff appearing to use excessive force on children – is to be taken over by the Ministry of Justice. Four members of staff had been arrested on charges of child neglect in relation to the allegations, following which G4S announced in February it was selling off the contracts to run Medway, Oakhill SCT, and 13 local authority children’
A wider review is currently being conducted into youth justice by Charlie Taylor, former head teacher and child behavioural expert, the final report of which is expected in July. The interim findings (available here) recommend an overhaul of the youth custodial estate, replacing youth prisons with smaller secure schools focusing on education.
But remember G4S and SERCO do not just profit from the misery of vunerable people here in the UK they are responsible for the misery and murder of children and adults all over the World.
Footage from Mangaung Correctional Centre near Bloemfontein, South Africa, shows G4S prison workers apparently administering anti-psychotic drugs to a patient illegally. Another prisoner shows injuries he says were given by the prison’s emergency security team. Allegations of torutre, including electrocuting inmates, have been denied by G4S: