Between January 2000 and December 2010 there was a total of 129 deaths of young people (aged 21 and under) and children aged 14-17 in prison and secure training centres. This figure includes 12 self-inflicted deaths of children in penal custody.
INQUEST believes that for many young people, prison is an inappropriate place where their experience of imprisonment can contribute directly to their death. We believe there needs to be a proper understanding of how vulnerable children should be treated in the criminal justice system and are calling for a properly-resourced public inquiry into the deaths of the 31 children who have died in state custody since 1990 in the hope that proper lessons can be learnt from these tragic deaths.
INQUEST has particular concerns about the high levels of restraint used on children in custody. We have produced case briefings on the restraint related deaths in 2004 of 14 year old Adam Rickwood, who took his own life in Hassockfield Secure Training Centre shortly after being restrained by staff, and 15 year old Gareth Myatt who died following the use of a controversial method of physical control at Rainsbrook STCSecure Training Centre.
INQUEST published a groundbreaking book In The Care Of The State? on the subject of child deaths in custody in 2005 and has worked with the NSPCC and the Child Rights Alliance for England on a joint campaign to end the use of pain compliance restraint techniques against children in custody.