Physical intervention is always a last resort. On our Challenging behaviour training courses and our Physical intervention training sessions we always stress this. Accountability and transparency must also be built into any policy sanctioning the use of any form of restrictive practice or reduction of liberty. A recently published Independent report into ‘Deaths and serious incidents in police custody’ calls for the same.

Restraint SafetyA long-awaited report into deaths in police custody in England and Wales has been published after a 15-month delay. Led by Dame Elish Angiolini QC, the report is a major review into deaths and serious incidents in police custody.

The report has the following to say about restraint; “The extent to which restraint techniques contribute to deaths in custody and whether current training is fit for purpose is a crucial aspect of this report. This report argues that police practice must recognise that all restraint has the potential to cause death. Recognition must be given to the wider dangers posed by restraining someone in a heightened physical and mental state, where the individual’s system can become rapidly and fatally overwhelmed. For example, positional asphyxia is a form of asphyxia which causes death when a person’s position prevents them from breathing properly. It may occur during or following the use of certain restraint techniques, for example, in face down or prone restraint”

The following observation is made: “Currently there is no consistency of training in restraint techniques across the 43 police forces in England and Wales. There should be mandatory and accredited national training for police officers in restraint techniques and supervision of vital signs during restraint, with appropriate refresher training for officers. There should be national consistency in approaches to the use of force. In addition, the ability to de-escalate circumstances which may lead to a physical or violent encounter should be paramount in the skills set of the individual officer”

Accountability is high on the agenda, with technology being seen as one way to increase it: “As with civilian witnesses, all statements should be the honestly held recollection of the individual officer. The further roll out of body worn cameras for police officers and CCTV cameras in police vans, as well as the increasing availability of video recorded material from mobile phones should assist the accuracy of evidence retrieval in the future”

The need for greater accountability is set against the back-drop of the perception that justice doesn’t seem to be served, especially by the families of those who have died in custody: “Of eight prosecutions of police officers in connection with a death in custody in the last 15 years, all have ended with acquittals. These include prosecutions for murder and manslaughter. In fact, there has never been a successful prosecution for manslaughter in such cases, despite unlawful killing verdicts in Coroner’s Inquests

Securicare Risk Manager Lee Hollins says, “We have long known that ‘restraint’ carries risk, sometimes very significant ones when you consider the context in which it is being used. The best way to manage such risks is to be open and honest about the policy of restraint and what is involved in its practice. When you plan and prepare, and when you train and ready staff for the possibility of restraint as a last resort you get to talk about all of the anxieties and concerns, all of the possible consequences and the ways of mitigating them. This includes refocusing emphasis on preventative strategies. This has to be the way forward. Failing to address restraint openly, honestly and in advance of its use consigns it to being an impersonal tool that is reached for and applied clumsily in order to fix the perceived problem. When you are talking about an intervention into a human life this isn’t good enough…”

SecuriCare offer a range of courses designed to ensure that nominated trainers can help staff to respond safely and effectively to any ‘Challenging Behaviour’ that may occur, including the application of ‘Physical Interventions techniques’. All programmes are finalised after full training needs analysis and delivered by experienced frontline practitioners. Click to see our ‘Preventing & Managing Challenging Behaviour’ Course which includes ‘Positive Behaviour Management’ techniques designed to minimise the need for any kind of restrictive intervention. You can also take a look at our person centred Intervention Planning Service.

Contact us for more information and to discuss your needs: E: trainers@securicare.com or T: 01904 492442

Download the Independent report into Deaths and serious incidents in police custody