7 January 2011

Before HM Assistant Deputy Coroner J.S Freedman    

Durham County Council Office

Seaside Lane, SR8 3TN

Monday 10 January 2011


The inquest into the death of 14 year old Adam Rickwood in Hassockfield Secure Training Centre on 8 August 2004 will open on Monday 10 January 2011. Adam Rickwood was the youngest child ever to die in penal custody.  He was found hanging in his room hours after being physically restrained.

The inquest into Adam’s death will, among other issues, scrutinise:

  • The circumstances in which restraint can be used against children and he type of restraint that can be used, in particular techniques that are designed to cause pain.
  • What was the physical and psychological impact on Adam of the restraint used?
  • Whether the force used against Adam contributed to his death.
  • The role of private company Serco and those with responsibility to supervise and monitor them including the Youth Justice Board and Commission for Social Care Inspectorate

This inquest reignites concerns over the treatment of children by the criminal justice system.  Adam’s death and the issue of both when force can be used and the deliberate use of painful force by staff against children has attracted substantial parliamentary and public disquiet and led calls for a radical overhaul of the way the state treats children in conflict with the law.

The inquest is scheduled to last three weeks and will begin by hearing on the first day from Adam’s mother. Evidence will also be heard from, amongst others, the officers involved in restraining Adam; senior management of the Youth Justice Board including the previous chief executive Ellie Roy; and Serco, the private company that runs Hassockfield.

The family will be represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Rajiv Menon from Garden Court Chambers instructed by  Mark Scott of Bhatt Murphy solicitors.