The Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 empowers staff in secure colleges to subject young people in custody to dangerous force for the purpose of ensuring ‘good order and discipline’. The use of force to restrain young people in custody can cause serious physical injury, profound psychological damage and was found to be a contributory factor in the deaths of two young people who died in custody in 2004. Despite these dangers, in most youth custodial establishments the use of force remains high and has been increasing. The 2015 Act will further legitimise the use of coercive violence against vulnerable children, consequently ensuring that the power imbalance between children and adults is sustained, the special status of childhood is diminished and the child’s human rights are violated. This article will consider the effectiveness of using violent force to control young people in custody and argue that the deliberate infliction of pain as a form of control of young people in custodial settings should only be used as a last resort and exclusively to prevent harm to the child or others.