SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT PUBLISH SIGNIFICANT REFORMS TO BAIL AND RELEASE INFLUENCED BY NPM CONSULTATION SUBMISSION
The Scottish Government have published The Bail and Release from Custody (Scotland) Bill which will refocus the way remand is used, with an emphasis on remand being reserved for those who pose a risk to public safety. The Scottish Sub Group of the NPM responded to the Scottish Government consultation in February and engaged closely with the government to ensure human rights principles and OPCAT were front and centre with the drafting of the Bill. You can read our consultation response here and read more of the Scottish Government Bill here.
NEW CHAIR DESIGNATE OF THE UK NPM ANNOUNCED
The UK National Preventive Mechanism has announced a new Chair-Designate following the retirement of our Independent Chair John Wadham. We wish Mr Wadham all the best in his retirement and thank him for his 6 years service to the NPM. Read about our new Chair here
UK NPM PUBLISHES ANNUAL REPORT: MONITORING PLACES OF DETENTION DURING COVID-19
The UK National Preventive Mechanism has published its 12th annual report
Press release here
This year’s report focuses on the challenges and impacts of the COVID pandemic on people deprived of their liberty in the UK, as well as on inspection and monitoring bodies.
During this exceptionally difficult period of the pandemic, the UK’s 21 bodies worked hard to ensure that independent detention monitoring continued, with innovative approaches adopted to minimise risk. The report also importantly outlines the human rights impact of severe restrictions imposed on people in places of detention to limit the spread of the virus. These were unprecedented, widespread and lengthy.
REPORT BY NPM SCOTTISH SUBGROUP: SCOTLAND’S PROGRESS IN THE PREVENTION OF ILL-TREATMENT IN PLACES OF DETENTION
The Scottish sub-group of the UK NPM has published a report finding many concerns raised by an international human rights body have not been fully addressed by the Scottish Government.
The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) visited prisons and police stations in Scotland in 2018 and 2019 and made recommendations to the Scottish government. The report reflects on these recommendations, finding many remain unaddressed. This includes those designed to tackle:
Continued levels of overcrowding in Scottish prisons
Prisoners remaining ‘institutionalised’ on segregation units at full capacity
Female prisoners with severe mental health disorders failing to be transferred to an appropriate psychiatric facility.
People being held beyond 24 hours in police custody
Evidence, however, also points to some changes to address CPT recommendations including improvements in the overall notification of rights to those in police custody and developing practice in trauma-informed care at Cornton Vale prison.
Judith Robertson, Chair of the NPM Scottish subgroup, said:
“The NPM Scottish subgroup welcomes the CPT recommendations made after the committee’s important 2018 and 2019 visits to Scotland and we acknowledge some positive steps taken by Government to respond to these.
However, this report raises serious concerns. We call on the Scottish Government to implement the outstanding recommendations as soon as possible, in particular taking note of the need for a concerted effort to effectively apply the presumption of liberty.
This report is a significant step towards monitoring progress, but more work is needed by the Scottish Government to regularly monitor how these recommendations are addressed both now and in future.”
UK NATIONAL PREVENTIVE MECHANISM RESPONDS TO UN TREATY BODY REPORT TO UK GOVERNMENT
On the 9th – 18th September 2019, the United Nation’s Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) carried out their first ever country visit to the United Kingdom.
The SPT have a mandate to advise and assist national preventive mechanisms on preventing torture and ill-treatment in places of detention. NPM members welcomed this visit, and were pleased that the delegation were able to shadow NPM members on visits to places of detention. The SPT has now published a report to the UK Government after its visit and the NPM has responded here.
The NPM collectively is calling on the government to take swift action in response to the following recommendations made by the SPT, that:
Detainees in police custody should be made routinely aware of and proactively offered access to all their rights and entitlement
A national strategy should be implemented to increase the number of beds in psychiatric hospitals
Segregation in prisons should only be used as a last resort and for the shortest possible period
Serious consideration should be given to establishing a statutory time-limit for immigration detention
The Government has published a response to the SPT’s findings and recommendations from their visit.
UK NPM PUBLISHES ELEVENTH ANNUAL REPORT
The UK National Preventive Mechanism has published its latest annual report, Monitoring places of detention: Eleventh annual report of the United Kingdom’s National Preventive Mechanism 1 April 2019 – 31 March 2020.
Our annual report provides a comprehensive overview of political, policy and legislative developments that relate to the treatment of people in detention and otherwise deprived of their liberty.
You can read the report here.
UK NATIONAL PREVENTIVE MECHANISM RESPONDS TO UN SUBCOMMITTEE ON PREVENTION OF TORTURE’S REPORT
The UK National Preventive Mechanism has published the United Nations Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture (SPT)’s report to the UK NPM, following its visit to the UK in September 2019. We have also published the UK NPM’s official response to the SPT report.
UK NPM Chair, John Wadham, has commented on the SPT report:
“The UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture carried out their first ever visit to the UK in September 2019. Their report on the UK NPM , and our response, is published today. On behalf of the NPM, I welcome the Subcommittee’s report.
Crucially, the Subcommittee makes clear that adoption of robust legislation regarding the NPM and its members is necessary in order for the UK to fully comply with its international obligations under OPCAT, highlighting that this is needed as an essential safeguard for NPM independence, effectiveness and credibility. This is an issue we have raised for a number of years and following the Ministry of Justice’s consultation on the matter this summer, the UK NPM awaits a positive response from government.
I am proud of the fact that the Subcommittee also states that the NPM has “a positive and durable impact on preventing torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Every year, the UK’s NPM make nearly 70,000 visits to prisons, young offender institutions, immigration detention facilities, police custody, court custody and to observe escorts. This is an incredible achievement and a strength of the UK’s NPM.
The Subcommittee’s report provides clear recommendations for the UK NPM to work toward to improve the way in which we exercise our OPCAT mandate. We look forward to a continuing dialogue with the Subcommittee in the future to help strengthen our joint role in preventing torture and ill-treatment for those in detention.”
UK NATIONAL PREVENTIVE MECHANISM RESPONDS TO MINISTRY OF JUSTICE CONSULTATION
The UK NPM has responded to the Ministry of Justice consultation, Strengthening the Independent Scrutiny Bodies through Legislation.
The consultation proposes to strengthen a number of organisations who have a role to protect those in detention by improving their legislative basis. The consultation asks for ‘views on giving the NPM a possible statutory basis and how this might be done in light of the particular nature of the NPM’.
The NPM’s response highlights the need for NPM legislation, which has been recognised by two United Nations committees and the Council of Europe’s anti-torture body.
Read the NPM’s response here.
UK NATIONAL PREVENTIVE MECHANISM’S RESPONSE TO COVID-19
The UK NPM has raised concerns over how the COVID-19 outbreak puts people in detention and staff at significant levels of risk in a letter sent to the Secretary of State for Justice Robert Buckland QC MP.
In this factsheet we highlight some approaches being taken across the NPM to ensure monitoring continues and adapts appropriately to COVID-19.
See our Twitter page for regular updates on how NPM members are responding to the emergency and taking forward their role to prevent ill-treatment in detention.
In July, we submitted evidence to the Joint Committee on Human Rights, as part of their inquiry into the human rights implications of the Government’s response to COVID-19.
CPT REPORT ON DETENTION IN ENGLAND, 2019
On 3o April 2020, the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) published a report on their targeted follow-up visit to England. The NPM welcomes the comprehensive report. We welcome also the CPT’s recommendation that UK authorities take such steps as may be necessary to ensure that the NPM is fully in compliance with OPCAT requirements.
Read our statement to the report.
In July, we submitted evidence to the Justice Select Committee as part of their inquiry into Children and young people in custody. Our submission highlighted the CPT’s findings on Young Offender Institutions (YOIs) and Secure Training Centres (STCs) in England from their 2019 visit.
PUBLICATION OF TEN YEAR ANNIVERSARY REPORTS FROM THE UK NATIONAL PREVENTIVE MECHANISM
Each year, the NPM publishes an annual report to update the public on the situation in detention across the UK. In the report for 2018-19, we outline some of the key developments in policy and legislation on issues relating to people in detention, and an overview of the NPM’s findings relating to detention during the year.
The UK was one of the first countries to ratify OPCAT and set up a National Preventive Mechanism. Ten years on from the creation of the UK NPM in 2009, we look back at the positive impact we have had on preventing torture and ill-treatment and on upholding the rights of people in detention.
PUBLICATION OF NPM DETENTION POPULATION DATA MAPPING PROJECT 2016-17
On 24 January 2018, the NPM published the results of a project to map the detention population across the UK between 1 April 2016 and 31 March 2017.
To perform its functions effectively, the NPM requires information about where and how many people are detained including in prisons, immigration centres, secure settings for children and young adults and psychiatric hospitals. To provide an overview of detention across every setting in the four jurisdictions of the UK, the annual data mapping project brings together existing population data and highlights what is missing. This year data has also been sourced on the number of deaths that occurred in or following detention across the UK.
NPM Chair John Wadham commented on the findings.