Security measures are proportionate to risk and are underpinned by positive relationships between staff and women. Effective measures are in place to reduce drug supply and demand.

25. Women live in a safe prison community where the security measures applied are proportionate and the minimum necessary to achieve their secure custody.

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

  • The supervision of women by staff and the quality of staff-prisoner relationships promote a safe and secure environment.
  • Security is proportionate and the prison strives to provide living conditions that are as near as possible to normal life in the community.
  • Women’s freedom of movement is limited only by the requirements of safety and good order.
  • Security restrictions for individual women are only applied when necessary and are based on a clear and up-to-date justification of the risks presented.
  • There are no weaknesses in the physical and procedural security of the establishment.
  • The risk of escape or abscond is well managed, including while women are being escorted.
  • The use of strip searching is regularly monitored to make sure it is always necessary and proportionate. Women are never squat-searched.
  • Restraints are only ever used as a last resort during escorts, following a robust assessment of the risk posed.
  • Restraints are never used while women are giving birth or undergoing intimate examination.
  • The approach to security respects gender, ethnic, racial and religious diversity and actively promotes tolerance and acceptance of diversity.

26. The prison community and women’s well-being are safeguarded by effective security procedures, including drug supply reduction measures.

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

  • A strategic, whole prison, multidisciplinary approach to reducing drug and alcohol supply reflects emerging trends and links effectively with the substance misuse demand reduction strategy.
  • Effective technology is in place to detect contraband.
  • Drug testing takes place as required to reduce drug use. It is conducted in a suitable environment and in line with protocols which ensure validity of procedures.
  • All drug tests are undertaken by staff of the same sex as the prisoner.
  • Women who test positive, refuse to be tested or are involved in suspected drug-related incidents are referred to substance misuse services.
  • The criteria to ban or otherwise restrict visitors relate only to abuse of visits and individual restrictions are reviewed regularly. Decisions show that proper consideration is given to any potential impact on mental health or other risk factors, in particular those linked to risk of self-harm or suicide.
  • Searching of cells is intelligence-led. Women are made aware that their cells or personal property are being searched and can request that searches are carried out by a staff member of the same sex. Cells and property are left in the same condition they were found in.

27. Effective processes are in place to protect women from misconduct or illegal conduct by staff.

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

  • Women know how to, and are supported to make, confidential complaints about staff. Women are confident that the complaints system works effectively and understand the limits of confidentiality.
  • Women and staff know the identity of the local corruption prevention manager.
  • Women who report abuse are provided with immediate protection, support and counselling.
  • Reports of misconduct and ill-treatment are investigated by a competent and appropriately independent authority, who should be at least governor grade from another prison.
  • Where inappropriate or abusive practice is found, staff are held to account.
  • Staff understand the importance of whistleblowing, know how to do it and feel confident to do so.
  • The use of whistleblowing processes is monitored and reviewed.

Human rights standards

In relation to expectations 25 to 27, human rights standards emphasise that women should be held with no more security restrictions than necessary to ensure safe custody and good order. Physical security should be complemented by staff knowing the women they work with. There must be clearly defined procedures and justifications for conducting searches, and they must be conducted in a manner which respects human dignity and privacy, as well as the principles of proportionality, legality and necessity. Searches should be carried out by staff of the same sex. In addition, women must be able to complain about their treatment by staff, in confidence if they wish, without fear of negative consequences. See ECHR 3, 8; ICCPR 7, 10.1; CAT 2, 10, 12–13, 16; BR 19, 20, 25; SMR 36, 47–50, 54–57, 77; EPR 3, 18.10, 49, 51, 68, 70; BOP 1, 6, 33. See also CPT, Women in Prison. See also standards in relation to expectations 20 to 24.