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Friday, 1 June 2007

Coroner urges rethink on the use of restraint on young offenders.

Rethink use of restraint on young offenders, urges coroner - Guardian


"A coroner called yesterday for an urgent review of the use of restraint on young offenders after a jury returned a suicide verdict on a vulnerable 14-year-old who hanged himself with his shoelaces at a privately-run secure unit.

Adam Rickwood was the youngest person to die in custody in Britain for more than 50 years when he took his life after begging his mother to get him moved from the centre at Consett, Co Durham, where he had been for less than a month.

A four-week inquest heard that the boy had been forcibly restrained by four staff shortly before his death three years ago, and a controversial technique designed to cause brief but sharp pain by twisting and squeezing the nose had been used to force him to go to his room.

A few hours later, a care officer found the body of the boy, who had threatened to kill himself in letters home and was known to have mental health problems with suicidal tendencies.

The jury of nine women and one man at Chester-le-Street coroner's court exonerated care staff at Hassockfield secure training centre, run by the prison specialist company Serco. They reached a nine-one majority verdict after four days' deliberation."

"The findings were criticised by Adam's mother, Carol Pounder. She said after the hearing: "I am disgusted at not having a full inquiry into the death of a very vulnerable child, my only son. The jury was not given the whole of the evidence relating to his death.

"What gives anyone the right to allow four men, weighing 58 stone between them, to restrain a 14-year-old boy, cause him pain and injure his nose for refusing to go to his room? If that had happened at home, I would have been charged."

The coroner took a stronger line than the jury's findings, expressing concern about the brief violence used to force Adam to comply."

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