Prisoners live in a safe, well ordered and motivational environment where their positive behaviour is promoted and rewarded. Unacceptable conduct is dealt with in an objective, fair, proportionate and consistent manner.

Encouraging positive behaviour

4. Prisoners are encouraged to behave positively in the prison community.

The following indicators describe evidence that may show this expectation being met, but do not exclude other ways of achieving it:

  • Prisoners’ positive behaviours are promoted and rewarded.
  • Progress and reward schemes are motivational, fair and proportionate and take account of individual needs.
  • Behaviour is reviewed regularly and prisoners are able to demonstrate progress.
  • Staff support prisoners to change their behaviour, giving them advice and opportunities to behave well.
  • Prisoners know they can appeal decisions about reward schemes and are helped to do so.
  • Consultation with prisoners about the scheme is regular and responsive.

5. A clear and coordinated whole-prison approach ensures prisoners feel and are safe from victimisation, violence and other anti-social behaviour.

The following indicators describe evidence that may show this expectation being met, but do not exclude other ways of achieving it:

  • There is an effective multidisciplinary strategy to reduce violence and anti-social behaviour.
  • Staff promote positive and supportive relationships, identify and challenge problematic behaviour and model pro-social behaviour.
  • Mediation is used appropriately to help resolve disputes.
  • Allegations of violence and anti-social behaviour are investigated promptly and thoroughly and action is taken where required.
  • Data on disorder and violence against both prisoners and staff is regularly analysed and used to inform strategy.
  • Particularly vulnerable prisoners are protected (for example those who have been bullied or are vulnerable because of their offence).
  • Staff identify prisoners who self-isolate and provide support to promote positive relationships, well-being and participation in the regime.
  • Perpetrators of violence and anti-social behaviour receive support to change their behaviour.
  • Prisoners are encouraged to be meaningfully occupied at all times.

Adjudications

6. Prisoners are subject to disciplinary procedures which are fair and proportionate and follow due process. Prisoners understand the charges and procedures they face.

The following indicators describe evidence that may show this expectation being met, but do not exclude other ways of achieving it:

  • Wherever possible, antisocial behaviour is challenged effectively without the use of formal disciplinary procedures, which are only used as a last resort.
  • Prisoners who lack the capacity to obey a prison rule as a consequence of mental illness or disability are not adjudicated.
  • No unofficial or collective punishments are used.
  • Adjudications are conducted in non-intimidating surroundings.
  • Prisoners are routinely offered legal advice.
  • The governor conducts adjudications regularly and routinely quality assures a proportion of adjudications conducted by other managers.
  • Adjudication data is monitored and any emerging patterns are identified and acted on.

Use of force

7. Force is only used against prisoners as a last resort and never as a punishment. When used, force is legitimate, necessary, proportionate, and subject to rigorous governance.

The following indicators describe evidence that may show this expectation being met, but do not exclude other ways of achieving it:

  • Staff have up-to-date training in approved use of force methods, which emphasise the routine use of de-escalation techniques.
  • Restraints are used as a last resort and for the shortest possible period.
  • Planned use of force is properly authorised.
  • All staff involved in the use of force are debriefed and complete appropriate reports promptly.
  • Prisoners are debriefed verbally after an incident and receive an explanation of why force was used on them with a view to preventing recurrence.
  • Prisoners with challenging behaviours as a result of physical disability, learning disability or personality disorder have care plans which highlight risk factors and set out alternative management protocols which reduce the likelihood of restraint techniques becoming necessary.
  • Decisions to use personal protective equipment (PPE) to manage prisoners are reviewed every day on an individual basis by a senior manager.
  • Health staff recognise risks associated with restraint, attend all planned use of force situations, brief staff appropriately and comprehensively assess prisoners’ well-being during and after the incident and initiate all required treatment/interventions promptly.
  • Use of force data is monitored and any emerging patterns are identified and acted on.
  • Use of force documentation and associated CCTV or video footage is retained appropriately and is scrutinised by senior managers to identify good practice, opportunities for improvement and possible ill-treatment.

8. Prisoners are not located in special or unfurnished accommodation, or placed in mechanical restraints or anti-rip clothing except as a last resort and with proper authorisation.

The following indicators describe evidence that may show this expectation being met, but do not exclude other ways of achieving it:

  • Special/unfurnished accommodation, mechanical restraints or anti-rip clothing are properly authorised by a senior manager and only used for the shortest possible period.
  • The use of any cell from which normal furniture, bedding or sanitation has been removed or in which a person is held in anti-rip clothing is authorised and recorded as a use of special/unfurnished accommodation.
  • Prisoners are not strip- or squat-searched or deprived of their normal clothing in special or unfurnished accommodation unless there is sufficient specific intelligence and proper authorisation.
  • Prisoners with severe mental illness and prisoners at risk of suicide or self-harm are not held in special or unfurnished accommodation except in clearly documented exceptional circumstances on the authority of the governor and in consultation with the mental health team.
  • Monitoring of prisoners in special/unfurnished accommodation is carried out at frequent and irregular intervals.
  • Staff encourage prisoners to return to a normal cell at the earliest opportunity.

Segregation

9. Prisoners are only segregated with proper authority and for the shortest period.

The following indicators describe evidence that may show this expectation being met, but do not exclude other ways of achieving it:

  • Prisoners are not segregated except as a last resort, for as short a time as possible and subject to proper authorisation.
  • Prisoners with severe mental illness and prisoners at risk of suicide or self-harm are not segregated except in clearly documented exceptional circumstances on the authority of the governor.
  • Prisoners are informed of the reasons for their segregation in a format and language they understand.
  • Transfers of prisoners between segregation units are exceptional, carefully monitored to prevent prolonged segregation and properly authorised.
  • A multi-disciplinary staff group monitors prisoners held in segregation units to ensure they are held there as a last resort and for the shortest possible time.

10. Prisoners are kept safe at all times while segregated and individual needs are recognised and given proper attention.

The following indicators describe evidence that may show this expectation being met, but do not exclude other ways of achieving it:

  • There is a clear focus on meeting individual need and providing care and support for segregated prisoners.
  • Health staff promptly assess all new arrivals in the segregation unit and contribute to care plans.
  • Segregated prisoners receive assertive mental health support and regular review.
  • Prisoners are never subjected to a regime which amounts to solitary confinement (when prisoners are confined alone for 22 hours or more a day without meaningful human contact).
  • Prisoners have meaningful conversations with a range of staff every day, including the opportunity to speak in confidence with a senior manager, a health care professional and a chaplain.
  • Staff are vigilant in detecting signs of decline in mental health, mitigate the social isolation inherent in segregation and actively seek alternative locations.
  • Reviews are multidisciplinary and prisoners are able attend.
  • Staff are appropriately trained and supported and receive specialist supervision from a trained facilitator.
  • Efforts are made to understand and address the behaviour leading to segregation.
  • Prisoners in the segregation unit are not strip- or squat-searched unless there is sufficient specific intelligence and proper authorisation.
  • The number of staff necessary to unlock individual men in segregation is decided on the basis of a daily risk assessment, which is properly authorised and recorded.

11. Segregated prisoners have daily access to the telephone and a shower and are encouraged to access an equitable range of purposeful activities.

The following indicators describe evidence that may show this expectation being met, but do not exclude other ways of achieving it:

  • The regime is tailored to individual need, prisoners know what regime to expect and they have the opportunity to use the telephone every day.
  • As a minimum prisoners have one hour of outside exercise every day.
  • Prisoners located on the segregation unit long term have a care plan and are encouraged and supported to associate with others and to return to normal location.
  • Prisoners are provided with extra care and support after a period of isolation with a view to preventing future episodes.
  • Prisoners have appropriate activities to occupy and stimulate them in their cells.
  • Subject to risk assessment, prisoners can access the same facilities and privileges as elsewhere in the prison and can access regime activities and peer supporters.
  • Prisoners have access to outside exercise and other activities together, subject to appropriate risk assessment.


Further resources

National Preventive Mechanism Guidance: Isolation in Detention (113.34 kB)

The UK National Preventive Mechanism was established to fulfil the UK’s obligations under the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against torture and has a remit to prevent ill-treatment in detention. This guidance was developed on the basis of the findings of the review of isolation and solitary confinement across detention settings conducted by NPM members in 2014-15 and draws from international standards and best practice.

Human rights standards

Encouraging positive behaviour
Human rights standards encourage the use of conflict prevention and mediation (SMR 38.1, EPR 56.2). Other relevant standards relate to discipline and order, safety and systems of privileges. See SMR 36, 95; EPR 52.2.

Adjudications
Human rights standards set out detailed requirements for systems of discipline and punishment in prisons. Key principles include informing prisoners of rules and regulations on admission, using disciplinary procedures as a last resort after other options have been explored, adherence to due process requirements, proportionality of any punishments, and the prohibition of collective punishment or any other punishments amounting to ill- treatment or torture. See SMR 36–43; EPR 56–63; BOP 30.

Use of force
Human rights standards set out that as a general rule, force and restraints must only be used if and when absolutely necessary and where all other means to contain a specific situation have failed. There may be times (for example during transit or to prevent serious harm to others), when the use of force and the application of restraint may be unavoidable but there are a number of conditions that must be met and the use of force must be closely scrutinised to ensure it is lawful, necessary and proportionate.

Standards relating to restraint: SMR 43, 47–49; EPR 68. Standards relating to use of force: SMR 82; EPR 64–67; BPUF 9, 15, 16; CCLEO 3. See also CPT 20th Annual Report paragraph 71 regarding use of electric discharge weapons.

In extreme cases, the use of force or restraint could engage CAT 1, 2, 16; ECHR 3; ICCPR 7 (prohibition of torture and ill-treatment) or ECHR 2; ICCPR 6 (right to life).

Segregation
As with any restrictions imposed on people already deprived of their liberty, human rights standards require that segregation or other practices that isolate detainees must only be used when absolutely necessary, for the shortest time possible, and be proportionate to the legitimate objective for which they are imposed. Because of the harm that can be caused by isolation, specific and additional safeguards also need to be in place. While segregation in some instances may be legitimate, the justification for such measures and their severity must be examined carefully by monitoring bodies. The risk is that, where out of sight, detainees’ rights can be overlooked or undermined.

The confinement of prisoners for 22 hours or more a day without meaningful contact constitutes solitary confinement, and where this lasts in excess of 15 consecutive days, it constitutes ‘prolonged solitary confinement’ (a prohibited practice). (SMR 44)

See SMR 44–45; UK National Preventive Mechanism, Isolation in Detention (2017); reports of the UN Special Rapporteur on torture (A/63/175, 2008; A/66/268, 2011); World Medical Association, Statement on Solitary Confinement (2014); UN General Assembly, Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (A/66/268), 5 August 2011; Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture, 21st Annual Report (2010–2011). See also CAT 1, 2, 16; ECHR 3; ICCPR 7.