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Welcome to the EuroPris Knowledge Management System. The table below shows questions and responses from European National Agencies. Select a question for more information or use the filters on the left to narrow down questions based on Agency or Category.
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Introduction: We would like to know more on how other European national agencies and member countries, conduct prison inspections, if applicable, what procedures are included, which sources and data are made available, which eligible organizations or entities can perform these inspections, to whom do they report and how independency is assured. We are interested to know as well, how these entities assure professional and structured approach, in the articulation of its conclusions and recommendations, to drive compliance and best practices, leading to better outcomes.
Apart from the Ombudsman, the National anti-torture mechanism and the competences of Penitentiary Judges, the Prison Service has an specific Analysis and Inspection Service.Does the entity representing lawyers enjoy this competence?
In Spain, lawyers are organised by what we called Law Schools and the Spanish Bar Council. The inspection competence is not foreseen for these specific institutions.Are these entities independent? To whom do they report?
The Ombudsman, the National anti-torture mechanism and the Penitentiary Judges are totally independent and they report to external authoryties (Parliament, Council of Europe,..). The specific Analysis and Inspection Service belongs to the Prison Service, but it does not report to any of the controlled units. It reports directly to the General Secretary.Are these inspections announced or unannounced?
It depends and both are possible, but the obligation of showing the state of the visited prison is the same in both situations.
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A prosecutor shall exercise supervision over preserving the rule of law in prisons. Following bodies shall also exercise control over the pre-trial detention and prison sentence execution in prisons: National Council of the Slovak Republic; Minister of Justice of the Slovak Republic and persons charged by him; Director General of the Corps of Prison and Court Guard and persons charged by him; legal persons or natural persons in case a special regulation or an international convention by which the Slovak Republic is bound stipulate it (e.g Ombudsman; European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment).Does the entity representing lawyers enjoy this competence?
No, the Slovak Bar Association does not have such competence.Are these entities independent? To whom do they report?
Yes. The entity, respectively the authority to which they shall submit potential report from the control performed depends on the control’ focus, on who ordered such control (based on own initiative or on other initiative), as well as on the character of controlling findings. Accordingly, depending on the controlling findings, the controlled entity and its superior authorities shall be informed, together with the proposal for change of the current found state.Are these inspections announced or unannounced?
Controls/inspections may but does not have to be announced in advance.
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Apart from internal revisions in prisons carried out by the Directorate General for Correctional Services within the Federal Ministry of Justice, revisions are carried out by the Volksanwaltschaft (Ombudsmann) (www.volksanwaltschaft.gv.at)Does the entity representing lawyers enjoy this competence?
No.Are these entities independent? To whom do they report?
Yes, the Volksanwaltschaft is independent and reports to the Austrian Parliament, the Parliaments of the Länder (federal provinces) and to the SPT (OPCAT).Are these inspections announced or unannounced?
These inspections are mainly unannounced, but depending on the circumstances and needs, they can also be announced.
In Latvia, inspection visits to prisons can be carried out by the Ombudsman, the State Audit Office, Internal Security Bureau, the Latvian State Security Service, the Ministry of Justice, Health Inspectorate, State Children Rights Protection Inspectorate, State Environmental Service and Food and Veterinary Service.Does the entity representing lawyers enjoy this competence?
Yes – the Ombudsman, the State Audit Office and the Ministry of Justice.Are these entities independent? To whom do they report?
The Ombudsman, the State Audit Office and the Internal Security Bureau are independent entities. Other entities, that carry out inspections in prisons and are subordinated to ministries, provide information to ministries in the form of a report.Are these inspections announced or unannounced?
The Ombudsman can carry out an inspection visit to prison in case of a specific issue and without a prior announcement. The other entities mentioned in the answer to question 1 may carry out inspection visits to prison in case of a specific issue and with a prior announcement.
Courts, prosecutors, Ombudsmen, Ministry of Justice and other authorities as prescribed in the legislation of the Republic of Lithuania.Does the entity representing lawyers enjoy this competence?
n/aAre these entities independent? To whom do they report?
n/aAre these inspections announced or unannounced?
Inspections are unannounced
Judicial control: (1) Institutions and bodies of the present code communicate to the court about the execution or impossibility of the execution of the decisions. (2) The convict or other persons whose rights and legitimate interests are violated by the acts of the institution or body that ensures the execution of the criminal decisions may attack these acts in the manner established by the legislation. Departmental control: (1) The activity of the institutions and bodies that ensure the execution of the criminal decisions is subject, in the manner established by the normative acts, to a departmental control from the hierarchically superior bodies. (2) Within the control over the manner of execution of the decisions, the National Administration of Penitentiaries may annul the acts and decisions provided by this code, issued by the administration of the penitentiary institution in violation of legal provisions. Control exercised by national and international organizations: (1) National and international organizations that ensure the protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms may exercise control over the execution of criminal judgments in the manner established by national and/ or international acts. Civilian control: (1) The monitoring commissions, which are permanent bodies, without the status of legal person, carry out the civil control (monitoring) on the observance of human rights in the institutions that ensure the detention of persons. (2) The way of forming the commissions for monitoring the activity of the institutions that ensure the detention of persons, their basic tasks and attributions are regulated by National Law on civil control over the observance of human rights in institutions that ensure detention people. The penitentiary institutions that ensure the detention of persons deprived of liberty can be visited: (1) During the exercise of their duties, they have the right to visit the institutions that ensure the detention of persons, without special permission: a) President of the Parliament; b) The President of the Republic; c) The Prime Minister; d) The Members of Parliament; e) The People's Advocate, the People's Advocate for the Rights of the Child, the officials of the Office of the People's Advocate, the members of the Council for the Prevention of Torture and other persons accompanying them in the exercise of their duty to prevent torture; f) The General Prosecutor, the prosecutor who exercises control over the execution of criminal decisions; g) The person with the position of competent responsibility of the hierarchical body superior to the institution or body that ensures the execution of the criminal punishment; h) The judge who examined or is examining the criminal case, according to the territorial competence; i) The representative of the international organization which, according to the national and/ or international acts to which Republic of Moldova take part of; j) Member of the monitoring commission. (3) The institutions that ensure the detention of persons may be visited by other persons with the special permission of the administration of these or hierarchically superior bodies, or based on the court decision, and based on the decision of the body of criminal investigation or of the court, in the procedure of which the case is investigated. (4) Video recordings and photographs in the institutions that ensure the execution of the prison sentence or life imprisonment, except for the cases related to the persons mentioned in paragraph (1) of this article, shall be made with the written permission of the administration of the respective institution. (5) The audio, video recording or photographing of the convicts shall be carried out with their written consent, except for the cases provided by law.Does the entity representing lawyers enjoy this competence?
-Are these entities independent? To whom do they report?
-Are these inspections announced or unannounced?
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HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland was established on 1 January 1981, following the publication in 1979 of a report by the Committee of Inquiry into the United Kingdom Prison Services (The May Committee) . The report recommended that there should be a system of inspection of the Prison Service distanced as far as may be practicable from the Prison Department. Subsequently, the post of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland was approved by Parliament and the role of the HM Chief Inspector of Prisons (HMCIP) was placed on a statutory basis by the Prisons (Scotland) Act 1980. Subsequently, Section 7 of the Prisons (Scotland) Act 1989 (as amended by the Scotland Act 1998) now provides the statutory basis for Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons in Scotland (HMIPS). HMIPS operates independently and impartially from the Scottish Prison Service is directly accountable to the Scottish Ministers. The United Kingdom is a signatory of the United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhumane and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT). The UK National Preventative Mechanism was established in 2009 to strengthen the protection of people in detention through independent monitoring. HMIPS is one of 21 bodies that comprise the UKs National Preventative Mechanism (NPM), which has a duty to regularly monitor the treatment of detainees and the conditions in which they are held. HM Chief Inspector of Prisons is responsible for ensuring that a systematic programme of inspection is carried out across all 15 establishments and that findings are reported to the Cabinet Secretary for Justice. HMIPS reports on the treatment of prisoners and conditions in Scottish prisons and undertakes the following functions: • inspects all prison establishments in Scotland; • inspects legalised police cells; • inspects prisoner escorts; • undertakes thematic inspections and reviews as necessary; • reports on any matter connected with Scottish prisons as directed by the Cabinet Secretary for Justice; • produces an Annual Report. The scope, focus and content of any inspection is decided by HMCIP, but at a minimum covers : • physical conditions prevailing in an establishment; • treatment of prisoners; • facilities, services and opportunities available to address offending behaviour and the accessibility of these; • preparations in place for returning prisoners to the community; • any other relevant matter as the Cabinet Secretary for Justice may direct or HMCIP may choose. HMIPS now utilises nine detailed standards in its inspection process: • Lawful and Transparent Custody; • Decency; • Personal Safety; • Effective, Courteous and Humane Use of Authority • Respect, Autonomy and Protection against Mistreatment; • Purposeful Activity; • Transitions from Custody into the Community; • Organisational Effectiveness; and • Health and Wellbeing. Each Standard has a number of Quality Indicators (QIs) which are graded individually to inform the overall score for the Standard. The Standards articulate what is expected of a well-run prison and contain very clear statements identifying what will be monitored and inspected. The approach is underpinned by the PANEL principles, which are based on human rights and relate to Participation, Accountability, Non-discrimination and equality, and Empowerment and Legality. By using accessible language, PANEL translates the wide variety of human rights law minimum standards, so that they can be better understood and applied. Visiting Committees ceased to be in 2015 when the Public Services Reform (Inspection and Monitoring of Prisons) (Scotland) Order 2015 came into force on 31 August 2015 and from that date HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland assumed overall responsibility for the monitoring of prisons, which was to be carried out on a day to day basis by Independent Prison Monitors. Monitoring and Inspection of prisons represent two separate functions. Monitoring can be thought of as a broad, regular, checking of prison functions and treatment of prisoners, whereas inspection is a more focussed ‘deep dive’ scrutiny of how prisons are run. The inspection of a prison tends to happen around once every three years by the core Inspectorate team and invited guest specialist inspectors. Independent Prison Monitors provide an independent viewpoint on the humane treatment and conditions for prisoners in all prisons across Scotland and conduct investigations either as a result of a prisoner raising an issue or from observations that are made during prison visits. Monitors are expected to report formally on their findings which should cover: • living conditions and treatment of any person imprisoned; • regime of the prison (e.g. - activities, work, education, etc.); • access to medical care and services whilst in prison and that is provided by the National Health Service (NHS); • organisation and management of prisoners and personnel; and • quality of relationships between the prisoners and the SPS and other relevant agencies. Independent Prison Monitors (IPM) would report in the first instance to their Prison Monitor Co-ordinator (PCM). Four PCMs manage monitoring across the estate by geographical area. One covers HMPs Glenochil, Shotts, Cornton Vale and Polmont, one covers HMPs Greenock, Dumfries, Low Moss and Kilmarnock, one covers HMPs Grampian, Inverness, Perth and Castle Huntly and one covers HMPs Barlinne, Edinburgh and Addiewell. Either through observation or through a prisoner raising an issue, the IPM would initially discuss the matter with the local management team to ascertain their understanding and position on the matter and endeavour to seek an appropriate solution to the problem. If the matter remained unresolved, the responsible PCM would assess the situation and decide on what course of action was necessary and to what level the matter needed to be escalated. It would then be followed up until the contested issue was resolved satisfactorily. The day to day role of the IPM has been broadly defined as : • conduct prison visits to observe and monitor all aspects of prison life, in accordance with the HMIPS standards for monitoring and inspection; • talk to prisoners about their treatment and conditions in prison, and provide advice and support as required; • talk to visitors, prison officers and other people working at the prison about the treatment of prisoners; • attend all mandatory training; • develop effective working relationships with prisoners, staff and the Governor; • respond to requests from prisoners for confidential conversations, and conduct investigations where required; • examine relevant prison records and other information relating to the treatment of prisoners, in response to issues or concerns raised or observed; • assist prisoners with the prison complaints and NHS complaints processes where requested; • escalate issues to the Prison Monitoring Coordinator (PMC) , prison management, and Governor as appropriate; • report on their monitoring activity using the HMIPS online reporting tool (‘PRIAM’); • attend quarterly business meetings with the Governor; and • attend quarterly IPM team meetings. Such monitoring visits serve a variety of purposes: • Preventive function: community representatives regularly entering prisons to observe contributes to the protection of those held in custody; • Direct protection: making on site visits makes it possible to react immediately to problems affecting the prisoners; • Documentation: visits provide an opportunity to document specific aspects of imprisonment which can provide trend analysis to be used by HMIPS; and • Basis for dialogue with SPS: visits make it possible to establish a direct dialogue with SPS and officials in charge of the prison facility. With an on-site IPM presence, issues of concern raised by prisoners can be discussed with relevant members of the senior management team and, if necessary the Governor, so that identified problems can be addressed and resolved quickly and satisfactorily.Does the entity representing lawyers enjoy this competence? Are these entities independent? To whom do they report? Are these inspections announced or unannounced?
Internal inspection in the correctional institutions (penitentiaries, prisons and juvenile correctional institutions) is carried out by authorized officials of the Head Office for the Prison System, Directorate for Prison System and Probation, Ministry of Justice and Public Administration. Additionally, a special organizational unit in the rank of an independent service has been established at the Head Office of the Prison System, which is responsible for the organization and coordination of internal inspection and for investigating the justification of the allegations in the prisoners’ complaints. Supervision and inspection of the provision of health care to persons deprived of their liberty in the prison system is carried out by the Ministry of Health, and supervision and inspection of the programs of education of persons deprived of their liberty and their implementation is carried out by the Ministry of Science and Education. The Ombudsman and there special ombudsmen also supervise the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms of prisoners in accordance with special regulations on the basis of international agreements.Does the entity representing lawyers enjoy this competence?
No, in the Republic of Croatia, the Croatian Bar Association does not have the authority to conduct inspections.Are these entities independent? To whom do they report?
Authorized officials of the Head Office for the Prison System who carry out inspection of the work of correctional institutions submit the reports to the Director General of the prison system, the State Secretary and the Minister of Justice and Public Administration. Authorized officials supervising the provision of health care to people deprived of their liberty in the prison system shall submit a report to the Ministry of Health and, if necessary, submit the necessary measures for improvement to the Ministry of Justice and Public Administration. Also, authorized persons of the other abovementioned ministries who supervise healthcare or educational programs and their implementation submit their reports to the respective ministry and, if necessary, submit the measures for further improvement to the Ministry of Justice and Public Administration. The Ombudsman and special ombudsmen are the plenipotentiaries of the Croatian Parliament for the promotion and protection of human rights and freedoms established by the Constitution, laws and international legal acts on human rights and freedoms adopted by the Republic of Croatia. The Constitution of the Republic of Croatia and the Law on the Ombudsman guarantee their autonomy and independence in their work.Are these inspections announced or unannounced?
Inspections may be announced or unannounced, depending on the type and subject of the inspection.
Article 20 of the Basic Law stipulates: “Without prejudice to the missions or authorizations concerning inspection, monitoring or supervision by judicial, administrative or other authorities determined by or pursuant to the law, the prisons and the treatment of detainees is supervised independently by the Central Monitoring Council for the Penitentiary System and the prison monitoring committees.” The Central Monitoring Council for the Penitentiary System (CTRG/CCSP) is an independent and impartial monitoring and advisory body established by the Chamber of Representatives and charged with the following mission: 1° monitoring the prisons and the treatment of the detainees independently; 2° giving advice to the Chamber of Representatives and the competent ministers; 3° establishing prison monitoring committees and supporting, coordinating and monitoring their operation; 4° writing the annual activity report for the Parliament and the competent ministers. A prison monitoring committee is established in every prison and is entrusted with the following tasks: 1° monitoring the prison and the treatment of the detainees independently; 2° giving advice and information to the CTRG/CCSP with regard to the welfare of the detainees and formulating propositions on this subject; 3° mediating between the director and the detainees to solve concrete problems; 4° writing the annual report. In addition, the Federal Ombudsman is an independent and impartial institution that examines complaints about the functioning and the actions of federal administrative authorities. The Federal Ombudsman ensures that the people’s rights (and, therefore, the rights of detained persons) are respected in their relations with the government. Moreover, the prisons are visited by examining magistrates, province governors and mayors in the framework of their obligations concerning visitation and monitoring. Finally, the 2019 law concerning the organization of the penitentiary services and the status of the penitentiary personnel provides for a future inspection service within the administration. On the recommendation of the president of the direction committee, the Minister of Justice will appoint a Dutch-speaking and French-speaking staff member charged with the inspection of the execution of the penitentiary administration's missions. This has currently not yet entered into force.Does the entity representing lawyers enjoy this competence?
No. Pursuant to Article 57 of the Basic Law, detainees may, however, freely correspond (= not subject to penitentiary oversight) with the president of the Bar Council of the district in which the prison is situatedAre these entities independent? To whom do they report?
Pursuant to the law of 25 December 2016, the monitoring bodies (Central Monitoring Council for the Penitentiary System and the prison monitoring committees) were transferred from the FPS Justice to the Parliament. The CTRG/CCSP executes its mission of monitoring and advice independently with regard to the penitentiary institutions and coordinates the work of the prison monitoring committees. It is accountable to the Parliament for the execution of its missions. The prison monitoring committees execute their mission of monitoring and mediation locally in a penitentiary institution and are accountable to the CTRG/CCSP. The Federal Ombudsmen (NL and FR) are independent and are appointed by the Chamber of Representatives.Are these inspections announced or unannounced?
The members of the CTRG/CCSP and the prison monitoring committees have unlimited access to the penitentiary institutions at any time between 7h00 and 21h00. Night visits (between 21h00 and 7h00) are reserved for the members of the CTRG/CCSP and are always announced beforehand to the local prison direction. They have unrestricted access to all locations in the prisons and to the detainee’s accommodation, provided that the detainee consented beforehand. Moreover, they have the right to consult all documents pertaining to the prison on the spot (barring legally determined exceptions). The members have the right to correspond with the detainees without oversight and to contact them without supervision.
Two entities are given a general legal authority to conduct prison inspections; The Parliamentary Ombud for Scrutiny of the Public Administration and The Supervisory Council of the Correctional service. In addition several entities, agencies and authorities can conduct inspections inside prisons, related to their sectoral legal authority, like health, food security etc.Does the entity representing lawyers enjoy this competence?
Lawyers are represented in the entities, in addition to other professionals. They respond engagement, positive meaning and great interest in this field.Are these entities independent? To whom do they report?
The entities are independent in the relation to the correctional service. The Parlimentary Ombud report the findings to the Parliament. The Supervisory Council of Correctional service reports to the regional level, and given comments, is forwarded to the Directorate of Correctional service.Are these inspections announced or unannounced?
The reports and most inspections from the Parlimentary Ombud are publicly announced. The reports from the regional Supervisory Councils are in general not announced. They are available by request.
HMI Prisons • Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons for England and Wales (HMI Prisons) is an independent inspectorate led by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons. They provide independent scrutiny of the conditions for and treatment of prisoners and other detainees and report on their findings. • HMI Prisons also carry out thematic inspections on issues which cut across individual establishments. These inspections can be undertaken jointly with other criminal justice chief inspectors under the statutory framework for joint inspection set up by the Police & Justice Act 2006. • HMI Prisons is also the coordinating body for the UK’s National Preventive Mechanism (NPM). The NPM was established under the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT). The NPM is made up of 20 statutory bodies, all of whom monitor places of detention, not limited to prisons. HMIP’s role includes coordinating an annual report to the UN and acting as a conduit for information from the relevant UN Sub-Committee to other members of the NPM. Independent Monitoring Boards • Independent Monitoring Boards (IMBs) are unpaid public appointees who provide statutory, independent oversight of the treatment and care of prisoners (in England and Wales) and immigration detainees (throughout the UK) on behalf of Ministers and the public. IMBs are part of the UK’s NPM. • IMBs are bodies created by statute, attached to every Prison Service establishment in England and Wales and every Immigration Removal Centre and Short-Term Holding Facility in the United Kingdom. • Each IMB produces an annual report summarising their findings over a 12-month period which is addressed to the Secretary of State and published on the IMB website.Does the entity representing lawyers enjoy this competence?
• To our knowledge the two legal representative organisations, Law Society and Bar Council do not enjoy this competence.Are these entities independent? To whom do they report?
• Both entities are independent and operate as arm’s length bodies, sponsored by the Ministry of Justice. They publish reports in their own name. • The HM Chief Inspector’s responsibilities for inspecting prisons and young offender institutions are set out in Section 5A of the Prison Act 1952 and stipulate that they must report their inspection findings to the Secretary of State. • The Prison Act 1952 and the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 require every prison, IRC and STHF to be monitored by an independent Board appointed by the Secretary of State from members of the community in which the prison or centre is situated. The Boards report annually to the Secretary of State and are charged with promptly informing the Secretary of State, or any official with delegated authority, of any concern it has.Are these inspections announced or unannounced?
• Inspections by HMI Prisons are largely unannounced. In exceptional circumstances, and on the basis of risk, some inspections will be announced, and the prison will be informed in advance of the visit. • To enable IMBs to carry out their duties effectively, members have right of access to every detained person and every part of the establishment and also to the establishment’s records. There is no requirement that they announce their visits.