The BBC carries a disturbing report of drugs trial on children in approved schools in the 1960's.
National Archives files show that at one approved school, Richmond Hill Approved School in North Yorkshire, pupils were given an anticonvulsant drug to see if it would control behaviour. There was also a proprosal to give girls in a Leeds approved school, Haloperidol, a powerful sedative.
I have handled about three cases in my twenty year career of child abuse compensation claims, involving children who were injected with drugs in the 1970's and 1980's. However these drugs were administered in specialist psychiatric units, not children's homes.
As a side point, the National Archives are a rich source of information on children's homes in the post war years. In one case of mine, it yielded crucial records on a Hackney run children's home from the 1960's.
Approved schools were residential units set up in the 1930's for children who had committed crimes. They were run by the Home Office, and then superseded in the late 1960's to early 1970's by community homes. Many of these approved schools have given rise to substantial multi party litigation in relation to child abuse.
The use of powerful medication on children is highly controversial, not least in this case because it cannot be right for the most vulnerable people in society to be used as guinea pigs, in relation to drugs, the effect of which were clearly not fully understood. The experience of being injected with these substances can be absolutely terrifying for a child, particularly when they are left helpless and disorientated. There is also the question of why anyone responsible for a children's home would want to employ chemicals as a means of control.
According to the BBC report, at least one teacher at Richmond Hill was appalled at the trial and the headmistress at the Leeds approved school declared that the girls in her care were not "mentally sick". They only needed to work through their emotions. The trial was blocked by the school's managers.
The trial in the other home went ahead but there is no record of its results.
Malcolm Johnson, Specialist Child Abuse Lawyer