Do we have to keep records of restraint in a numbered bound book?

We use an electronic system for recording safeguarding and behaviour incidents (CPOMS), so do we have to keep records of restraint in a numbered bound book?

Long answer short – this was the case in the past. Although there is now no need to keep a numbered, bound book (unless you wish to), that advice is still being passed around as a requirement. Schools have to ‘consider how best to record such serious incidents’.

There’s a bit of history needed on this!

Following the ‘Education Act 1996 section 550: Power of members of staff to restrain pupils’, guidance from the DfES was published, ‘Guidance on the Use of Restrictive Physical Interventions’ (DfES Circular 10/98). This guidance referred to incidents being recorded in a book with numbered pages (which many interpreted to mean a ‘bound book with numbered pages’).

Later, Guidance for Restrictive Physical Interventions (DfES/DOH, 2002) again said, ‘The use of a restrictive physical intervention, whether planned or unplanned should always be recorded in an incident book with numbered pages’.

Then, the Education and Inspections Act 2006 Section 93 replaced the Education Act 1996 section 550A, and further guidance was issued. This updated guidance replaced and superseded DFES Circular 10/98, but said only that incidents should be recorded. Many LEAs issued policies that schools should adopt, and those policies reiterated that there should be bound books with numbered pages.

The most recent guidance was published in 2013 (later reviewed in 2015), ‘Use of reasonable force: Advice for headteachers, staff and governing bodies’ (DfE, 2013) It says “It is good practice for schools to…consider how best to record such serious incidents.” (page 7) Many school chose to continue with the ‘bound book with numbered pages’, not least because one of the most often used physical intervention methodologies – TeamTeach – recommended it. However, it is not a ‘requirement’, if the school has another method which they consider ‘best’.

One word that was sometimes seen in policies in the past was ‘tamperproof’. The idea is that once a record of restraint has been made, it cannot be removed or altered (which is where the idea of ‘locked away’ came from). When an entry is made in CPOMS, it is time-stamped and linked to the person who was logged in and made the entry. This obviates the need for a numbered, bound book, as the entry cannot be altered – only a new entry made, which itself is time-stamped.

So, in my opinion at least, it is the school’s responsibility to decide how they record incidents of physical restraint, but it doesn't have to be book.