Back Council of Europe anti-torture Committee visits the United Kingdom, focusing on police and prisons in Scotland

A delegation of the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) carried out an ad hoc visit to the United Kingdom from 17 to 26 October 2018.
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Council of Europe anti-torture Committee visits the United Kingdom, focusing on police and prisons in Scotland

The primary purpose of the visit was to examine the situation in police and prison establishments in Scotland and to assess the progress made since the CPT’s previous visit in 2012. During the visit the delegation examined the situation of prisoners in various Scottish prisons, and paid specific attention to those inmates in segregation, in remand, women prisoners generally and to overall healthcare issues. In addition, the delegation examined the treatment of persons in police custody and carried out visits to several police custody facilities across Scotland.

In the course of the visit, the delegation held consultations with Humza Yousaf, Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Christina McKelvie, Minister for Older People and Equalities, Colin McConnell, the Chief Executive of the Scottish Prison Service, Paul Anderson, Assistant Chief Constable, Police Scotland and Gary McEwan, Chief Superintendent (responsible for custody facilities). The delegation also met with other senior officials of the Scottish Government, the Ministry of Justice of the United Kingdom and representatives from NHS Scotland.

In addition, the delegation had meetings with Wendy Sinclair-Gieben, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Prisons for Scotland, Gill Imery, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary for Scotland, and representatives from the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) and the Scottish Human Rights Commission, as well as with representatives of non-governmental organisations active in areas of concern to the CPT.

At the end of the visit, the CPT’s delegation presented its preliminary observations to the competent authorities.

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

  • Julia Kozma (Head of delegation),
  • Vincent Micallef, and
  • Olivera Vulic.

They were supported by Francesca Gordon of the CPT's Secretariat, and assisted by experts, Rainer Pöhnl, Consultant Physician for Internal Medicine and prison health care (Austria) and Jurgen van Poecke, Prison Director (Belgium).

The delegation visited the following places:

  • HMP Barlinnie
  • HMP and YOI Cornton Vale
  • HMP Edinburgh
  • HMP and YOI Grampian
  • HMP Shotts
Police Custody Facilities
  • Fraserburgh Police Station
  • Glasgow City Centre Police Office
  • Govan Police Station
  • Peterhead Police Station
  • St Leonards Police Station

In England, a sub-delegation of the CPT also examined the treatment and conditions of detention of one person convicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL)[1]. This visit was carried out on 25-26 October 2018.

[1] This specific monitoring activity of the CPT flows from an Exchange of Letters between the RSCSL and the CPT dated 20 January and 5 February 2014, and an Agreement between the United Nations and the United Kingdom Government, dated 10 July 2007.