On 8 August 2004, 14 year-old Adam Rickwood was found hanging in his cell in a child prison run by Serco.
In addition to a note for his family, asking to be buried with his grandad, Adam left behind a statement explaining that officers had deliberately swiped his nose, and that he bled for nearly an hour.
Adam asked the officers what gave them the right to hit a child in the nose.
Today, nearly 14 years later, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) set out its plans for a new type of locked institution – the secure school.
The MoJ document says pain-inducing restraint will not be permitted.
The ‘nose distraction’ inflicted on Adam was an officially authorised restraint technique. It was withdrawn three years later from the privately-run secure training centres, and from all child prisons in 2010/11. But other pain-inducing restraint has continued.
Article 39 has been campaigning to end pain-inducing restraint since we first set up as a charity. With the backing of nearly 200 donors, we have been threatening to take the Ministry of Justice to court to get the authorisation of pain-inducing restraint lifted during children’s journeys to and from secure children’s homes. We believed we were on firm ground since the Department for Education prohibits pain-inducing restraint within secure children’s homes.
Today’s publication indicates the government department in charge of child prisons has finally conceded that allowing and training those who look after children to deliberately inflict severe pain as a form of restraint is unjustified.
Adam’s statement was published by the Guardian newspaper in June 2007.