The Restraint Reduction Network (RRN) has called for legislation that prohibits the unnecessary use of restrictive practise to be implemented “urgently” after a tribunal in Scotland found that the restraint of a young woman amounted to unlawful discrimination.
In what is the first case of its kind in Scotland, the Health and Education Chamber ruled that staff at a residential school had used restraint numerous times against a young, vulnerable autistic female diagnosed with ADHD and a learning disability in a way that was unlawful.
The RRN said that while they were “heartened” that the tribunal case had set a precedent for future rulings, “much still needed to be done” in order for the harmful practice, which breaches human rights, to be outlawed.
In agreement, Beth Morrison from Positive and Active Behaviour Support Scotland, said: “For too long, we have been calling for ‘reduction’ and it’s not working. By asking for a ‘reduction’ we appear to be saying that this manhandling is ok. Let’s be clear… it’s not restraint. It’s abuse”.
The Care Quality Commission has also taken “urgent action” to keep children and young people safe at the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford after receiving concerning information about the safety and treatment of children and young people with acute mental health needs or learning disabilities.
Inspectors found that people admitted to the hospital did not receive adequate risk assessments on admission and there were no systems in place to ensure restrictive practices, such as restraint, were completed safely or appropriately.
Following the inspection, the trust was told to make several urgent improvements, with training being highlighted as a key area. The overall rating for the services also went down from “requires improvement” to “inadequate”.
The national charity Mind has also called for the end of “humiliating and dehumanising” restraint practices in response to the inquest of Leon Briggs, who died in November 2013 after being detained at Luton police station under the Mental Health Act, while experiencing a mental health crisis.
“It is time that these harmful practices, which breach human rights, disproportionately used on children and young people with learning disabilities, autistic people or both, are seen as discrimination, abuse and outlawed,” said the RRN.
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RRN: Tribunal decision finds the use of restraint at a residential school amounted to unlawful discrimination
Mind: Mind responds to the inquest of Leon Briggs