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02 MAY 2013

R (on the application of MA) v Independent Adjudicator & Director, HMYOI Ashfield [2013] EWHC 438 (Admin); (2013) PLLR 042

Prison - young offenders institution - prison discipline - segregation - restriction on use of gym - restriction of access to education - Young Offender Institution Rules 2000 - adjudication - failure to provide paperwork - Article 6 European Convention on Human Rights

The informal segregation of prisoners in a young offenders institution by means of restriction to one wing of the facility, and a blanket ban on access to a gym, were unlawful as it did not fall within the Young Offender Institution Rules 2000. A failure to provide the appropriate paperwork to the prisoners prior to adjudication was in breach of Prison Service Instruction 47/2011 and Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights

7 March 2013

Administrative Court

Nicola Davies J

(1)        The claimants (MA and others) were, at the time of the events complained of, minors and incarcerated in the defendants' young offenders institution, A. They were involved in an incident which led to disciplinary action. MB and B were restrained and taken to the segregation unit, where they remained until the determination of the adjudication some days later. The other claimants were restricted to one wing of the Institution. Certain privileges were removed, such as television in their rooms; some classes were missed because of the incident and adjudications; and each was subject to a 2 week gym ban.

(2)        The claimants contended that the scheme of restriction to the wing amounted to unlawful segregation and therefore lacked the necessary safeguards; that the defendant (A) failed to comply with its own Incentives and Earned Privileges Policy; that the restrictions on education were unlawful, and that the blanket restriction on use of the gym was unlawful as it failed to follow A's own policy or proposed policy. They also argued that the adjudication had been unfair as their legal representatives had not been provided with the necessary documents.

(3)        Nicola Davies J held (a) that the five claimants who had been restricted on the wing for 3 days had only been able to leave their cells to shower, make a phone call or exercise. This amounted to removal from association, which is segregation by another name. Segregation is only permitted under Rule 49 of the Young Offenders Institution Rules 2000 (YOI Rules), and the segregation here was not based on this. It was not supported by a policy and no records were kept of this period. It was thus outwith Rule 49 and the safeguards it contains, and therefore unlawful [27], [36] - [37]. (b) That the national policy contained within PSI 11/2011 permitted disciplinary proceedings and a review of privilege levels. The claimants could not use it to support the argument that they had, in effect, been punished twice for the same offence, through the imposition of extra days on their sentences and the loss of privileges. Although A accepted that its internal policy conflicted with national policy, this was an internal document and could not have given rise to legitimate expectations amongst the claimants [49]. (c) That the restricted access to education had arisen from the desire to reintroduce the claimants to normal prison life, rather than for punitive reasons. This amounted to management of risk following the initial incident and did not breach the YOI Rules. (d) It was not clear that the blanket ban on use of the gym had been imposed to manage risk and it did not seem well suited to those purposes. The length and nature of the ban, as well as the key reason for it being due to the damage caused to property during the incident, demonstrated that it was intended to be a punitive measure. It fell outside the YOI Rules and was unlawful [69]. (e) That there had been a failure to comply with Prison Service Instruction 47/2011, which requires disclosure of documents, including witness statements. This amounted to a breach of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. That A had since taken steps to rectify the situation was material to any relief sought by MA and the other claimants.

Declaratory relief granted as to unlawful removal from association, unlawful restriction on use of gym and failure to provide relevant paperwork in breach of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Key paragraphs

[1] - [2] - Introduction

[3] - [6] - Incident 2 February 2012

[7] - [8] - The claimants' case

[15] - [37] - Segregation

[38] - [52] - Failure to comply with Incentives and Earned Privileges Policy

[53] - [59] - Education

[60] - [69] - Gym ban/suspension

[70] - [78] - Unfair adjudication

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