Duncan Lewis

Job Vacancies

Solicitors, Caseworkers, Trainee Solicitors

Cutting clothes of female prisoners while force strip search was done is not acceptable says a prison watchdog

Date: (29 August 2012)    |    

Total Comments: (0)    |    Add Comments

The prison inspectors have condemned the cutting of women’s clothes while being forcibly strip-searched in jail. They termed it as .unnecessary and unacceptable’.
When behaviour of women in prison had caused concern, such treatment, still amounted to ‘excessively punitive’, a inspector’s report on New Hall Prison in Wakefield, West Yorkshire said.
The prison holds 356 women and two babies.
While conditions at New Hall were found to have improved since its last inspection in November 2008, "the treatment of a small number of women who together constituted the most challenging behaviour with the highest levels of need was not acceptable, he warned.
One woman who arrived from another jail refused to hand over clothes she had been allowed to wear there. She was held down as her open-toed sandals and straps top were forcibly cut off her.
She was then "restrained, relocated to the segregation unit and had her clothes cut off her as she was forcibly strip-searched", Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick said.
The practice was unacceptable and women prisoners should only have their clothes removed "using officially approved control and restraint techniques", he added.
The incident was part of a small number of supposedly spontaneous acts where, accounts in paperwork showed that, force was used inappropriately.
The newly arrived prisoner from Peterborough jail refused to hand over open-toed sandals and a strappy top which were allowed at Peterborough.
The report cited that no other attempts were considered to resolve the issue and a manager’s approval was also not obtained to use such force which was neither necessary nor proportionate.
The special cell in the segregation unit was little-used but when it was, women were routinely placed in strip clothing and too many had their clothes cut off when forcibly searched. Such practices were unnecessary and unacceptable, Mr Hardwick said.
Some of the "most damaged women" were placed on the prison's segregation unit for "good order and discipline" but efforts to address the causes of their distress and manage their behaviour fruitfully were too little.
He added that punishments were excessive and cellular confinement was frequently used.
New Hall is a closed female local prison which holds, adult female prisoners of all categories, Young Offenders and Juveniles on Detention and Training Orders