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Jail inspector calls for prisons review

The Chief Inspector of Prisons has called for a 'comprehensive review of strategies and policies':

  • He said the review should ensure the treatment and conditions for remand prisoners was 'consistent with their unconvicted and unsentenced status'.
  • Their rights and entitlements should also be clarified and they should be held in cells, and on wings, separate from convicted prisoners, "except in exceptional circumstances".
  • Remand prisoners should be offered "the same opportunity to work as sentenced prisoners", the report added.

Government 'failing prisoners on remand'

It's clear that people remanded into custody are often held in worse conditions and receive less help and support than those convicted of a crime and serving a prison sentence.

The report reveals the impact of this rush to remand on an already overstretched prison service.

It is clear that the Government is failing to meet national and international obligations for the fair and proportionate treatment of people held in custody awaiting trial.

– Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust

NOMS accepts recommendations on prisoners on remand

Our existing policies recognise the distinction between remand and sentenced prisoners and set out the privileges and entitlements that reflect remand prisoners' status.

We have already taken action to reinforce requirements on cell sharing and access to work for remand prisoners.

We will continue to reinforce the management of remand prisoners, to ensure we are meeting the statutory requirements and the findings from this report will further inform this work in due course.

– Michael Spurr, chief executive of the National Offender Management Service

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Remand prisoners 'likely to feel suicidal'

  • Almost a quarter (23%) of remand prisoners said they felt depressed or suicidal when they arrived at prison.
  • More than a third said they had a drug (35%) or mental health problem (36%).
  • Nearly half (47%) had problems obtaining bail information.
  • More than half (58%) of unconvicted prisoners said they spent less than four hours out of their cell on a weekday.
  • While most wanted to take part in work or education, a lack of places and the prioritisation of sentenced prisoners meant some were unable to do so.
  • Remand prisoners showed little awareness of the support available.
  • While almost two-fifths (39%) said they expected to have housing problems on release, only a fifth said they knew who to contact for help.

Jail Inspector questions current prison rules

  • The report was based on inspection reports for 33 local prisons, fieldwork in five jails and focus groups with remand prisoners and managers.
  • It found an "unresolved disjuncture" between prison rules and what actually happened. Other rules have become outdated, it warned.
  • While the Prison Rules 1999 set out legally binding entitlements for remand prisoners, Prison Service policy gave discretion to governors.
  • Sharing mixed cells was "the norm", the inspectors found.

Remand prisoners 'treated worse than convicted and sentenced inmates'

There is a long-standing principle that they should be accorded rights and entitlements that are not available to convicted and sentenced prisoners.

Yet far from being treated more favourably, this thematic review has shown that they all too often receive less support and help than convicted and sentenced prisoners.

This is not just a question of addressing injustice in the treatment of the individuals concerned, but ensuring that costly prison places are not used unnecessarily and that everyone is given the chance to leave prison less likely to commit offences than when they arrived.

– Chief Inspector of Prisons, Nick Hardwick
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