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Prisons: Strip Searches

House of Lords written question – answered on 19th October 2012.

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Photo of Baroness Stern Baroness Stern Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government what changes have been made at New Hall prison in the light of the report of HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, published in August, describing as "unacceptable and unnecessary" the practice of cutting the clothes off women prisoners when forcibly strip searching them.

Photo of Lord McNally Lord McNally Deputy Leader of the House of Lords, The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice, Liberal Democrat Leader in the House of Lords

The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) is considering the recommendations made in HM Inspectorate of Prisons' (HMCIP) report on HMP and YOI New Hall published on 29 August 2012. As with all establishment inspection reports by HMIP, NOMS intends to produce an action plan responding to all the recommendations made in the report between three and six months after the date of publication. I will therefore write to the noble Baroness detailing the response to the recommendations about this matter once the plan has been sent to the chief inspector.

The national policy on full searching prisoners under restraint is contained within Prison Service Order (PSO) 1600, Use of Force. It is lawful for all prisoners, including women, to be forcibly full searched and for their clothing to be cut off them as part of the search. However, this should only be done when it is absolutely necessary, where there is no alternative and with the authority of the duty governor or supervising officer in charge.

Since the HMIP inspection, HMP and YOI New Hall has reinforced the specific techniques on how and when to remove clothes from prisoners without the need to cut them off in ongoing control and restraint training and also via a notice to staff which clarifies the process.

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