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Restraining Youth

November 12, 2012 permalink

On October 24 Queensland Australia released the Child Guardian Report: Investigation into the Use of Force in Queensland youth detention centres. The full report can be downloaded from Commission for children and young people and child guardian. A news article on the report is in the expand block. One interesting part of the report is titled Attachment A: Protective Actions – Approved Restraint Techniques with a local copy (pdf). It lists six methods of restraining youth, titled:

  • Transport Wrist Lock
  • Straight Arm Bar
  • Reverse Wrist Lock
  • Two Person Take Down
  • Three Person Room Removal
  • Three person room insertion

The table includes the levels of pain and medical complications associated with each method. Another part of the report details injuries suffered by six young people when they experienced the restraints.



Excessive force by staff injuring teens at youth detention centres

Brisbane Youth Detention Centre at Wacol
The Brisbane Youth Detention Centre at Wacol.
Source: The Courier-Mail

AN investigation has revealed the use of excessive force by staff at Queensland's youth detention centres.

Restraint techniques used to control young people are being reviewed by the Justice Department after a report by the Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian highlighted "systemic issues" at the state's two centres in Brisbane and Townsville.

The report examines the cases of six young detainees who suffered serious injuries between September 2009 and November 2010, including a dislocated shoulder and fractured upper arm; four fractured wrists; and a fractured forearm.

One of the youngsters, who suffered a broken right wrist after being put in transport wrist locks by two workers, was just 148cm (4ft 10in) tall and weighed only 28kg.

The technique involves immobilising a young person's forearm and then bending their hand inwards, causing medium to high levels of pain.

In another case, a young person diagnosed with autism suffered a fractured forearm after physical intervention by three staff without any verbal warnings.

Commissioner Elizabeth Fraser's report found that while training emphasised the use of non-physical strategies, staff were too quick to resort to physical force.

"In reality, the specific incidents reviewed under this investigation would appear to indicate that 'pain management/compliance' techniques are relied upon more frequently than communication and negotiation skills," it said.

The department has already banned one of the techniques - the transport wrist lock - and the commissioner has recommended the safety, legality and appropriateness of others be reviewed within three months.

The report makes 12 recommendations, including better medical care to those involved in physical altercations.

Youth Affairs Network of Queensland executive director Siyavash Doostkhah said the report was "disturbing", especially with the State Government prepared to open Queensland's first two boot camps.

Mr Doostkhah welcomed the recommendations but said "an urgent independent inquiry" was needed, which should investigate excessive use of solitary confinement.

A Department of Justice spokesman said the recommendations were being addressed.

Source: The Australian