Restraint techniques that could kill

It’s likely that many of the readers of my blog will know the dangers of using restraint techniques already. Most experts in the field would argue that used properly the restraint of an individual is safe for both the detainee and the person applying the restraint. That is the point after all. I have always been of the view that physical restraint whenever it is used always carries dangers for all parties and recent published research suggest the same. A study published in Medicine, Science and the Law (a forensic medicine publication) concluded that forcing a detainee to bend over while seated can lead to death because the hold reduces lung capacity significantly.

There is a picture of the hold if you click here. This is a hold you find being used potentially in mental health situations or private security organisations. So for example it may be used on an aircraft.

The BBC ran a story last week connecting this research the death of Jimmy Mubenga, 46, who died not long after being restrained on his deportation flight out of Heathrow last year. Post-mortem examinations were inconclusive and three security guards employed by the escorting security organisation have been arrested and put on bail.

As I understand it the research involved forty volunteers who were put in a seated position and lent forward so their faces were close to their lap. They were then held in that position. The research suggested that it was the position rather than any force applied that was the main problem as the position restricted lung capacity and air flow. This would be worsened if your detainee was over-weight. The researchers expressed concerns that detainees in this hold may struggle to breathe but that their struggling could be misinterpreted by the enforcer who may push them lower into the forward position, making breathing even more difficult. I’m sure you get the picture. It’s a terrible image and highlights the challenges of security personnel ever more.

If you are in the security profession either as a security officer or as the CEO please take note. There are many good courses out there which will keep you and the general public safe and well. Invest your time and money wisely…you should look for a course that will cover these key elements:

  • Differentiates between holding, escorting and restraining and non-harmful seated restraint techniques and how to apply them.
  • Demonstrates and explains how to gradually de-escalate and relax a restraint to allow the subject being restrained to regain self-control.
  • Explores the risks associated with alcohol and drugs, knives and other forms of edged weapons in relation to the use of physical restraint.
  • Investigates the difference between non-harmful methods of control and more restrictive methods of control and when the use of such methods would be considered appropriate.
  • Explores all legal aspects of physical restraint and particularly that as it relates to Reasonable Force and Health and Safety.
  • Provides you with the physical skills required to handle potentially violent situations.
  • Provides you with the physical skills to safely control others whilst being compliant with legislation.

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