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Prisoners Ill-Treatment: Boards Of Visitors' Duty

Volume 592: debated on Thursday 30 July 1998

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asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether, in the light of the number of cases of ill-treatment of prisoners being reported to the Chief Inspector of Prisons and the Prisons Ombudsman, they are satisfied that Boards of Visitors are effectively discharging their duty under the Prison Rule 94, to "inform the Secretary of State immediately of any abuse which comes to their knowledge". [HL2926]

Boards of Visitors are required, under Prison Rule 94, to draw to the attention of the Secretary of State any ill-treatment of prisoners which comes to their knowledge. In dealing with such allegations, Ministers would expect the board to seek an explanation from the governor of the establishment and, if they remain unsatisfied, to draw this to the attention of the Secretary of State.A prisoner does not have to use the services of the Board of Visitors in seeking a resolution to his or her grievances. Thus some cases will by-pass the Board of Visitors entirely and go to the Prisons Ombudsman.Individual chairmen of Boards of Visitors can and do raise issues of concern directly with Ministers or the Director General of the Prison Service, who will make themselves available to discuss such issues if required. The Prisons Ombudsman will also take such action if he should wish to raise any issue of concern.