Guernsey

Failings highlighted in Guernsey detainees treatment

Person in handcuffs
Image caption The report said detainees should be told struggling against handcuffs could cause then to tighten

Some failings in the way Guernsey treats its prisoners have been published by the Council of Europe.

The report followed an assessment of practices according to the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture.

It highlighted "a few" allegations of excessive use of force and a failure to ensure detained 17-year-olds were treated as juveniles.

The report's recommendations were described by the States as "minor".

The assessment was carried out in March during a visit to the Bailiwick by a committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT).

The five-person delegation was headed by Wolfgang Heinz from the CPT and included a psychiatric expert from Finland and the director of a Belgian prison.

The team inspected police headquarters in St Peter Port, the customs and immigration detention facility at White Rock, Les Nicolles Prison, Perruque House secure unit for children and the Albecq acute psychiatric ward in Castel Hospital.

The report said the team "enjoyed excellent co-operation" and had unlimited access to places, people and information.

Disciplinary procedures

However, in its recommendations, it said appropriate steps must be taken to ensure handcuffs were applied correctly and where ratchet handcuffs were used, detainees were told that struggling might cause them to tighten.

It also said police officers should be reminded that no more force than strictly necessary should be used during an arrest and once detainees were brought under control, there was never any justification for striking them.

The report also asked for the outcome of any disciplinary procedures on a prison officer at Les Nicolles who was suspended after allegedly closing a cell door on an inmate's hand.

Other points highlighted included:

  • Two of the seven police cells should only be used as temporary holding places for no more than a few hours.
  • Juveniles should be held in specially designed detention centres at Guernsey's prison.
  • Prisoners suffering from a mental health disorder should be cared for in an adequately equipped hospital environment.

In a statement, the Policy Council said Guernsey was proud of its standards of treatment of detainees and the secure, decent and healthy environment in which this occurred.

It welcomed the CPT report which had made a number of positive comments.

Some minor recommendations have been given "serious consideration", the statement added.

Council of Europe report [221KB]

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