England: Council of Europe raises ‘serious concerns’ over prison safety

The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) has raised serious concerns over the safety of inmates and staff in prisons in England.

The CPT’s report following a UK visit last Spring notes prison violence spiralling out of control, poor regimes and chronic overcrowding.

It is also critical of safeguards at some psychiatric hospitals concerning forced treatment, the use of force on patients and the use of long-term segregation and night-time confinement in high secure hospitals.

Treatment of detained persons by the police and the situation in immigration centres are also covered in the report.

Thought the CPT welcomes the recent recognition by authorities to reform the prison system of England and Wales, it warns that the regime improvements envisaged will be “unattainable” unless concrete, determined and swift action is taken to reduce the prison population.

The latest prison population figures, published by the Ministry of Justice today, reveal a total prison population of 85,277, compared to a useable operating capacity of 86,667.

The UK’s formal response to the CPT report is expected soon.