On 17 March 2020, Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, announced that all of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons’ (HMI Prisons) scheduled inspection work involving visits to prisons or other places of detention had been suspended up to the end of May 2020. This affected inspections, independent reviews of progress and visits as part of thematic inspection work.

From April to July 2020, we developed and used our short scrutiny visits methodology. Short scrutiny visits involved a small team of inspectors visiting an establishment for just one day, who focussed on a small number of issues which are essential to the care and basic rights of those detained in the current circumstances.

Short scrutiny visits were replaced in August 2020 by scrutiny visits. You can find out more about scrutiny visits on our website and read the Chief Inspector’s statement announcing their launch. At this time we also announced our intention to resume inspecting court custody facilities from September 2020.

In preparing and implementing our response to COVID-19, we have worked with Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) and the Prison and Probation Ombudsman. You can read our Memoranda of Understanding with them below, along with statements previously published by HMI Prisons.

HMI Prisons statement 1 June 2020 (PDF) (83 kB)

HMI Prisons statement 8 April 2020 (PDF) (81 kB)

HMI Prisons statement 17 March 2020 (PDF) (79 kB)

Memorandum of Understanding between HMI Prisons and the Prison and Probation Ombudsman – COVID-19 (181 kB)

Addendum to Memorandum of Understanding with HMPPS (August 2020) (322 kB)