Government statistics for the use of force on young people in custody show that:
“the rate of use of force incidents was lower for White young people in custody than for young people from all other ethnic groups combined”
The 2017-18 survey of prisoners by the Inspectorate of Prisons found a higher percentage of black and minority ethnic prisoners than white prisoners had experienced bullying, victimisation or physical restraint by staff. A 2017 report by the Runnymede Trust with the University of Greenwich identified similar disproportionality related to ethnicity in the use of force in prisons.
“evidence demonstrates that force is used [in mental health units] disproportionately on patients with protected characteristics, such as…race.”
This policy is a pledge to address these injustices and to legislate if progress is not made.
With regard to prisons and young offenders institutions, we have not found significant government action relating to this policy. However, the Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Act 2017-19 gained Royal Assent on 1 November 2018 . The new law provides for greater accountability, reporting and investigation around the use of force in mental health units.
The Mental Health Units Act is evidence of movement towards fulfilling this pledge, but to move this policy to ‘done’ we would expect to see similar efforts made to counter disproportionality in the use of force in prisons and young offender institutions. Until then, this remains ‘in progress’. Follow this policy for updates.
Want more detail?
- Use of force on young people in custody – Gov.uk
- HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for England and Wales: Annual Report 2017–18 – Gov.uk
- Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Act 2017-19 – Gov.uk
- Tackling Discrimination in Prison: still not a fair response – Prison Reform Trust
- The Lammy Review – Gov.uk
- Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Bill, House of Commons, Briefing for Third Reading – Equality and Human Rights Commission
- Have prisons become a dangerous place? Disproportionality, safety and mental health in British Prisons – Runnymede Trust