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This debate was proposed to the Backbench Business Committee on 12 March 2019 by Norman Lamb and Helen Hayes MP.

Mr Lamb said of the proposal:

When I was a Minister in the Department of Health, we issued new guidance on the restraint of adults, with the aim of ending the use of prone restraint—face-down restraint—because it had been associated with several deaths and seemed to be dangerous.

There are all sorts of consequences of using restraint, particularly if you are dealing with someone who has been traumatised in the past—perhaps if they have suffered sexual abuse or something like that—and it is endemic in the system. When we issued that guidance, the plan was that it should be followed with guidance for children. That was in 2014. Of course, there is a difficulty, because the Department for Education is the lead, so I was not directly responsible for that new guidance. We are now in 2019, and we are still waiting.

Various surveys have been undertaken that show that the use of force is endemic in the system, and we know that children get injured. However, there is not even an obligation to inform parents when potentially significant force is used against a child, and there is no duty to report the number of occasions when restraint has been used, as there now is with adults.

This is a completely hidden area. When you think about residential schools, children’s homes, health units and assessment and treatment centres—particularly for children with mental ill health, a learning disability or autism—these are very vulnerable children, and we have no idea what is going on across the system.

This debate pack gives some background to the current guidance issued regarding restraint in health and education settings, as well as in foster care and children’s homes. The paper also outlines a recent joint consultation on this matter, ran by both the Department of Health and Social Care and the Department for Education, and still awaiting a Government response. Finally the paper includes a compilation of related press articles and further reading to facilitate debate.

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