Council of Europe anti-torture Committee visits the United Kingdom

A delegation of the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) carried out a two-week visit to the United Kingdom. The visit which began on 30 March 2016 was the Committee's eighth periodic visit to the country.
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The visit provided an opportunity to assess the conditions of detention and treatment of persons held in prisons in England, and to examine the safeguards afforded to persons deprived of their liberty by the police. The visit also had a specific focus on mental health establishments in England for the first time, both inpatient adult psychiatry and medium and high secure forensic psychiatry. Finally, issues relating to persons held under immigration legislation were examined.

In the course of the visit, the CPT’s delegation met the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Prisons, Probation and Rehabilitation, Andrew Selous, as well as senior officials from the Ministry of Justice (National Offender Management Service and Youth Justice Board), the Home Office (National Police Chiefs’ Council and Immigration Enforcement) and the Department of Health.

Further, the CPT’s delegation met Peter Clarke, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector for Prisons, Nigel Newcomen, Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, as well as representatives from the Care Quality Commission, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England, the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the British Medical Association. Meetings were also held with non-governmental organisations active in areas of concern to the CPT.

At the end of the visit, the delegation presented its preliminary observations to the authorities of the United Kingdom.

The visit was carried out by the following members of the CPT:

  • Wolfgang HEINZ, Head of Delegation and 2nd Vice-President of the CPT
  • Georg HØYER
  • Mark KELLY
  • Jari PIRJOLA

They were supported by Hugh CHETWYND, Head of Division, and Francesca GORDON of the CPT’s Secretariat and assisted by three experts:

  • Eric DURAND, former Head of the Medical Services at Fleury-Mérogis Prison (France)
  • Harry KENNEDY, Clinical Professor of Forensic Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)
  • Veronica PIMENOFF, psychiatrist, former Head of Department at Helsinki University Psychiatric Hospital (Finland).

The delegation visited the following places of deprivation of liberty:

Police establishments

  • Brixton Police Station, Metropolitan Police
  • Charing Cross Police Station, Metropolitan Police
  • Paddington Green Police Station, Metropolitan Police
  • Southwark Police Station, Metropolitan Police
  • St Anne’s Police Station, Liverpool, Merseyside Police

Immigration Detention establishments

  • Yarls Wood Immigration Detention Centre
  • Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre (targeted visit)

Prison establishments

  • Cookham Wood Young Offender Institution (YOI)
  • HMP &YOI Doncaster
  • HMP Pentonville

Department of Health establishments (psychiatric care)

  • Ashworth High Secure Hospital, Liverpool
  • Broadmoor High Secure Hospital, Berkshire (targeted visit)
  • Chase Farm Hospital, North London Forensic Service, London
  • Highgate Mental Health Centre, London  (targeted visit)
  • St Charles Hospital, London

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