Annual Report: National Preventative Mechanism

The second annual report of the UK’s National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) is published today, giving an overview of the state of detention in prisons, police custody, children’s secure accommodation, immigration, military and mental health detention. 

The NPM is made up of 18 independent bodies, including the Scottish Human Rights Commission and co-ordinated by HM Inspectorate of Prisons. It was established in 2009 by the UK government to meet its UN treaty obligations regarding the treatment of anyone held in any form of custody. The NPM should have the right to regularly inspect all places of detention for the purpose of monitoring the treatment and conditions of detainees, with the clear purpose of preventing ill treatment of anyone deprived of their liberty. This report summarises the activities of those members.

Our last report recommended that the government should identify which places of detention are not subject to independent visits by the NPM and ensure that those gaps in protection are addressed.  This recommendation was accepted.  In future court cells in England and Wales will be subject to inspection by HMI Prisons and discussions are underway regarding the inspection of  service custody facilities, (known as guardhouses), operated by the British military.  As this report was being prepared for publication we were pleased to learn that custody visitors in Scotland were being placed on a statutory footing.

The following year will see the NPM members continue to share their expertise and experience of visiting places of detention and explore issues, such as the use of restraint, which arise across different types of detention.
Read the 2010 / 2011 Annual Report in PDF format.

On behalf of the 18 members of the UK NPM, Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick said:

“For detainees removed from public scrutiny in a prison or police cell, a secure hospital ward or juvenile facility, independent preventive inspection is particularly important. The nature of those held, and the fact that the work of the institution takes place out of sight, creates the conditions in which it is all too easy for abuse to take place. However, the greatest risk is the effect those conditions create. Away from public scrutiny, it is all too easy for even well intentioned staff to become accepting of standards that in any other setting would be unacceptable. We hope this report helps to provide an overview of the state of detention in the UK and our efforts to prevent ill-treatment.”