Scottish Green MSP introduces protections for young people in secure transport

Everyone who is in the care of the state deserves to be safe, especially vulnerable children.

New protections to prevent the use of handcuffs and other inappropriate physical restraint during the transportation of children in secure care have been delivered by Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer.

It closes a glaring gap in safeguarding young people’s welfare described as a “black hole” by Mr Greer, who oversaw the changes by bringing an amendment to the Children’s Care and Justice Bill.

His success introducing the change means that, for the first time, standards will be set for secure transportation of children, including on issues such as the use of physical restraint.

Mr Greer’s amendments follow concerns raised by campaign groups, the Children and Young People’s Commissioner and young people themselves regarding the inappropriate use of handcuffs and other painful physical restraints during journeys. 

As well as a lack of rules or standards for secure transport providers, there is currently no requirement to report incidents during the transportation of a child in secure care. This has resulted in what Mr Greer described during a parliamentary debate as a ‘black hole’ at the centre of the system for protecting vulnerable children and young people.

Once the Children’s Care and Justice bill is passed as a whole this spring, the Scottish Government will be required to produce a set of mandatory standards for secure transport providers. Both government and local councils will also be required to publish regular reports on the quality of secure transport services, including where there have been incidents of restraint.

Mr Greer’s amendment was developed with support from the Hope Instead of Handcuffs campaign and the Scottish Government, and was supported unanimously by MSPs on the Scottish Parliament’s Education, Children & Young People’s Committee.

Scottish Greens education spokesperson Ross Greer said: “No-one could explain to Parliament why secure transport was the only part of the secure care system to be effectively unregulated. That’s just not good enough when we’re talking about vulnerable and often traumatised young people, so I am glad that the Scottish Government and all other parties have supported my proposals to finally apply some minimum standards.

“Parliament heard stories of young people being inappropriately handcuffed and needlessly and aggressively restrained by secure transport providers, often without their care provider even being informed. These standards should eliminate such unacceptable behaviours and shine a line on what is happening in the secure transport system.

“Everyone who is in the care of the state deserves to be safe, especially vulnerable children.”