In July 2017, Article 39 successfully crowd-funded to legally challenge the use of pain and unjustified restraint during children’s frightening journeys to and from secure children’s homes. Children can be detained in these locked children’s homes from as young as 10 years old.
Escort custody officers employed by GEOAmey are allowed to use force to make children follow orders. Incredible as it sounds, they have been authorised and trained to deliberately inflict pain on children as a form of restraint. This is in striking contrast to the rules that must be followed in secure children’s homes, which restrict when restraint can be used and prohibit the infliction of pain.
Through the enormous generosity of over 150 individuals and several organisations, we raised enough funds to cover our application for a costs capping order and to pay for unavoidable court fees and charges. We wrote to the Ministry of Justice on 1 August 2017, setting out our serious concerns and our intention to seek a judicial review should appropriate action not be taken to safeguard the rights of very vulnerable children.
The Ministry of Justice responded to our concerns in November. Very positively, we were told the government would review the authorisation of pain-inducing restraint during escorting. We submitted evidence in December 2017, and encouraged other experts to contribute too.