Ongoing deaths in custody have provoked increased tensions across Australia in response to both international and domestic events. The lack of cohesive, mandatory training across all states and 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, there is a significant lack of detail on what constitutes a ‘reasonable’ or ‘necessary’ amount of force, and what specific restraint positions are used by authorities. 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 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 provide an extensive list of recommendations to prevent ongoing deaths in custody.
We have now sent this paper to a number of people and organisations and are waiting for feedback and support.