Safe restraint is used to limit an individual’s movement in an appropriate manner, to regain control without posing an unnecessary risk of harm to those involved. There is an absence of clear guidelines which mandate the use of de-escalatory tactics and safe restraint techniques in adverse situations. The aim is to develop effective cooperation and communication between authorities and inmates to create a safe environment for all, ultimately decreasing the likelihood of scenarios requiring the use of restraint.
The lack of cohesive, mandatory training across jurisdictions partnered with a lack of transparency with the public by corrective services has meant there is little clarity regarding the utility of current policy.
Furthermore, what constitutes as a ‘reasonable’ or ‘necessary’ amount of force, and which specific restraint positions can be used by authorities are not explicitly stated. There is a lack of cohesive, and mandatory training in safe restraint practices across jurisdictions, and individual state and territory training manuals are not made available for scrutiny. The lack of public accessibility to this information prevents accountability from being adequately enforced.
In response to this, the Deaths in Custody team at Justice Action have recently completed a policy brief on de-escalation tactics and the use of safe restraint methods by authorities with coercive power. Using case studies, legislation and policy from both an international and domestic context, the paper outlines and compares the different definitions and practice of force and de-escalation. From this comparative research, we have been able to an extensive list of recommendations to prevent ongoing deaths in custody.