Prisoners under escort

Document type
Corporate author(s)
Great Britain. Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons for England and Wales
HM Inspectorate of Prisons
Date of publication
1 December 2004
Social welfare
Material type

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It is known that the early days of custody are a time of greatest risk to prisoners, especially those imprisoned unexpectedly or for the first time. We expect to find that prisons have in place supportive reception, first night and induction processes to minimise those risks. Yet a prisoner’s first experience of custody will not be prison, but often a court cell, followed by an escort vehicle, in which the prisoner will be placed in a cubicle, with no forward vision and in some cases for a lengthy period of time. Afterwards, prisoners may spend eight or more hours travelling to and from, and being detained in, courts. These experiences of custody have not so far been inspected in detail.

This preliminary paper on escorts establishes the position, and the issues that arose, prior to the letting of the new escort contracts in August 2004. It uses information gathered from inspection reports over 18 months, as well as fieldwork in 10 prisons to establish the length of a prisoner’s day when under escort to and from prison. It provides a benchmark against which the new contractual arrangements can be assessed in the course of the thematic report.

Among the issues the report looks at are journey times, conditions in vans, and relationships between escort staff, prisoners and prison staff.

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