From the Morning Star: “In 2020 ‘I can’t breathe’ was heard across the world in response to the racist murder of George Floyd and others by US police officers — but restraint isn’t usually caught on a smartphone. In Britain, most of these violent and restrictive practices occur on mental health wards. Those affected are hidden away, their families on a seemingly never-ending search for justice.

Kyle*, a teenager, was pounced upon by at least seven men in an incident in 2015. They tackled him to the floor. A large man straddled his back, his hands squashing Kyle’s face onto the rough carpet. With his body crushed, he gasped for air. The other men trapped his legs and arm in place using their knees, while another yanked his arm across his back, which made Kyle howl in pain. Then, in front of all those watching, his jeans were pulled down to his thighs and he was jabbed with a needle. When Kyle was finally free, his arm was broken and required a complex operation to attach metal plates to the damaged bones.

One would expect these men to be charged for this assault but because they were nursing assistants and justified the restraint as necessary in order to deal with his challenging behaviour connected to his ADHD and learning disabilities, the managers did nothing. Police Scotland also refused to get involved.

This means Kyle, who is still a patient, is tormented each time he sees these staff members on the ward. His arm will cause him problems for the rest of his life, with the pain and restricted mobility another reminder of the trauma he suffered under the hands of those supposed to care.

. . . The justification for restraint is often said to be preventing harm to the service user or others. But it is often the act of ‘restraining’ patients in itself that’s causing injuries — in some cases resulting in lifelong disabilities and even death. Even when injuries aren’t acquired, restraint can lead to an erosion of trust, with patients unsure whether the staff member they approach will be caring or violent.”

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