The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman upheld seven complaints about the use of force in youth jails in five-and-a-half years and recommended disciplinary action in two cases. .
Between April 2011 and October last year, the PPO received 43 complaints from those aged under 21 about staff behaviour, including 21 about the use of force.
A bulletin published by the ombudsman said: “These complaints are among the most serious that the PPO investigates, and it is a significant concern that we upheld seven complaints about the use of force and recommended disciplinary action against staff in two cases.”
Ombudsman Nigel Newcomen said use of force on young people must always be a “last resort”, adding that there are “no completely safe restraint methods and even approved techniques can be applied incorrectly”.
He said his office receives a disproportionately small number of complaints from those aged under 21, adding: “Despite their small number, complaints from young people include some serious allegations about their treatment.”
The report set out a number of lessons including the use of camera footage to review incidents where force is used.
Where body-worn video cameras are available, they should be used to record spontaneous incidents where force is used, the paper added.
The report covers cases involving those held in secure training centres and young offender institutions.
VIEW: An extract from a BBC Panorama investigation that shows undercover footage of children and young people being abused and threatened by custody officers. Guards at the children’s prison, run by G4S, can be seen using ‘excessive force’ to restrain young people. G4S have suspended seven staff members named in the programme as abusing the children