Figures obtained by the BBC that there has been a shocking rise in the number of instances of physical restraint imposed upon adults with learning disabilities and autism in the last year.

The 47% rise in instances of physical restraint means that a disabled person is now restrained, on average, once every half hour in England.

Data obtained by the BBC’s File on 4 radio programme show that the use of restraints has increased from 15,000 instances in 2016 to 22,000 in 2017. The controversial act of prone restraint – when a person is restrained face-down – also increased from 2,200 instances in 2016 to 3,100 in 2017. In July, research published by Agenda showed that 32 women died over a five-year period from being restrained between the years 2012/13 and 2016/17.

A report from Mind published in June 2013 called the act of physical restraint: “an extreme response to managing someone’s behaviour…it can be humiliating, cause severe distress and at worst it can lead to injury and even death.”

Head of policy and public affairs at Mencap, Dan Scorer, told the Guardian: “The treatment of people with learning disabilities within these inpatient units is one of the biggest domestic human rights issues of our time.

“These horrific revelations reinforce the fact that the government and NHS England must urgently do a detailed analysis about where this is happening, and why the use of restraints has increased so dramatically in recent years.”

Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat MP who introduced guidelines designed to reduce the use of restraint agreed, telling the Guardian: “I had wanted and expected to see a substantial decline in the use of restraint and that hasn’t happened. That’s really shameful when we know it’s possible in very many cases to avoid the use of restraint at all through a more sophisticated approach to people in inpatient settings.”

Image: Flickr/Public Health Museum

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