RCPsych backs call for humane approach to youth detention

The RCPsych has welcomed the report (PDF) from the Joint Committee of Human Rights, Youth detention: solitary confinement and restraint.

Dr Heidi Hales, Chair of the Adolescent Forensic Psychiatry Special Interest Group said: “We appreciate having had the opportunity to contribute both in written (PDF) and oral (PDF) evidence.

“We agree that it is very important that young people in secure settings receive treatment and care in the most therapeutic and humane circumstances and with the least restrictive processes, to enable recovery and rehabilitation.

“Following our statement (PDF) supporting the eradication of de facto Solitary Confinement in custodial youth settings, we were pleased to see that the review upheld the concerns previously raised by RCPsych, BMA and RCPCH.

“We note that the report also reviewed restraint and seclusion in hospitals.

“As already given in our evidence, it is our view that the use of seclusion and long-term segregation in hospital settings do not amount to solitary confinement.

“Measures of last resort are necessary in some circumstances to keep young people, their peers and staff safe, when used in accordance with the specific requirements set out in the Mental Health Act Code of Practice 2015.

“However, it is extremely important that hospitals which must use these methods do so for the shortest period possible and ensure that all the safeguards required by the Code of Practice are in place.

“The RCPsych recognises that these practices, though sometimes needed as a last resort to ensure the safety of young people their peers and staff, can have a significant impact on young people and their families.

“The College is therefore leading a series of initiatives based on Quality Improvement methodology, aimed at helping hospitals reduce their use of these restrictive practices overall. We want to make sure one restrictive practice is not replaced with another, but also to make sure that young people, their peers and staff remain safe.

“We note that this requires adequate resources and training of staff and that ensuring least restrictive practice is the responsibility of all involved in a young person’s care planning, including those commissioning services and clinicians within inpatient and outpatient services.

“In addition, a collaborative review of seclusion and long-term segregation of young people in hospital settings by the CQC and NHS England is underway, which the RCPsych supports.”

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