Physical intervention is always a last resort. On our Challenging behaviour training courses and our Physical intervention training sessions, we always stress this. We also always draw attention to the fact that every time a physical intervention or physical restraint technique is applied the amount of force employed must always be the minimum, for the minimum amount of time. There are serious consequences for getting this judgement wrong as recent events have shown.

Restraint risksIn the news today is the father of a man with mental health problems who died after he was restrained by police, caged in a van and left naked in a cell, has said vulnerable people are still at risk because lessons from such tragedies are not being learned.

James Herbert’s family have battled for seven years to find out what happened to the 25-year-old after he was detained under the Mental Health Act, but they claim the “defensive” approach of the police force involved, Avon and Somerset, means they still have not got a full picture.

Tony Herbert, James’s father, told the Guardian he believed people would continue to die unnecessarily in police custody until forces became more open about mistakes.

“I would think after seven years we would have the truth. We deserve the truth and could have been given it but I don’t think we’ll ever know exactly what happened to James. That’s very hard to take,” he said.

“My anger is not so much at the police officers directly involved as I believe they had no malicious intent. It is directed at the police force’s extremely defensive response and the failure of the investigations into James’s death to give us what we need and deserve – the truth.

“The fact there have been so many deaths in police custody and not a single successful prosecution shows that the investigation system is flawed and the criminal justice system is utterly ineffective in this area. I believe this lack of accountability causes a lack of learning. It means in five years’ time there will still be people dying in police custody because the learning doesn’t happen. That’s the big crime.”

A long-awaited unpublished official report into deaths in police custody says families who have lost loved ones have been failed by the system and recommends far-reaching reforms to the police, justice system and health service, the Guardian has learned.

The report, ordered by Theresa May in 2015 while she was home secretary, is yet to be published, prompting warnings from some groups that the government delay risks damaging public confidence.

The report by Dame Elish Angiolini QC will say there should be a ban on those detained under mental health powers being held in police cells, and being transported in police vehicles, except in exceptional cases. It will also say that holding those believed to be suffering from mental health issues in police cells should be phased out completely.

SecuriCares Risk Manager Lee Hollins, “We know restraint is a dangerous endeavour. In this instance a tragic death resulted from an incident within which restraint played a part. From a risk management perspective lessons have got to be learnt. From my professional perspective I don’t start by asking how can restraint be made safer, rather I want to know is restraint really REALLY necessary? .. Risks need to be eliminated at source”

“When it comes to managing risks within the context of a dynamic event, we know from the literature that the mechanisms of harm are manifold and interactive. Time also magnifies the potential for harm.  Risks cannot be totally eliminated. Dame Angiolini’s suggestion of a ban on those detained under mental health powers being held in police cells stands to reason. Vulnerable adults should be dealt with within a setting that has the resources and the trained staff to address their needs. In this way risk can be managed within a health setting where care, and it is care that someone on crisis needs, can be provided in a sensitive and person centred fashion..”

SecuriCare offer a range of courses designed to enable support workers, carers and foster families to best respond to any ‘Challenging Behaviour’ that may occur. 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. Check out our ‘Physical Intervention’ courses and our online ‘Restraint Risks’ course. You can also take a look at our person centred Safe Holding Planning Service.

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