NPM recommendations may relate to all aspects of deprivation of liberty, including: places of detention, their management and functioning; public policies relating to detention; the relevant legal framework; and the broader institutional frameworks (such as the police force as a whole).
The form and content of recommendations depends on their audience, their objectives and the type of situation to which they relate. Recommendations may relate to problems that can be solved in the short, medium and long-term. Recommendations may also deal with both complex, systemic issues and specific topics. NPMs may decide to focus their recommendations on specific priorities or thematic areas, such as: material conditions, procedures and policies, laws and regulations, as well as specific situations and groups at risk.. A problem does not have to reach a specific level of severity before an NPM decides to make it the subject of a recommendation; indeed, recommendations may often be aimed at resolving seemingly small issues before they escalate into larger problems. In general, NPMs often make the following type of recommendations:
Recommendations following a visit. This type of recommendation relates to the key findings following a visit to a particular place and is usually included in the visit report. Such recommendations usually relate to only one establishment.
Thematic recommendations. They usually follow a series of visits relating to either a particular theme (such as use of restraints) or to a series of similar facilities (for example, recommendations could be the result of a series of visits to immigration detention facilities). As such, they usually concern laws, practices and policies that are relevant for a number of places of deprivation of liberty. Usually such recommendations will be contained in a specific thematic report and/or in the annual report.
Urgent recommendations. They usually relate to a serious infringement of fundamental rights and are a way for an NPM to quickly notify the authorities and give them a defined period in which to rectify the situation.
Recommendations in the annual report. This type of recommendation is often more general than those made in visit reports and will usually relate to broad, systemic issues of particular importance. Because of the higher publicity surrounding the annual report, as well as the fact that national authorities have an obligation to consider the implementation of recommendations therein, NPMs often use these reports as a platform to bring attention to recommendations that are a particular priority.
In addition to including recommendations in their reports, NPMs may also make written “preliminary observations” to the authorities, usually at the end of a visit during the final meeting with the director of the establishment. These are a useful way of highlighting the most pressing or urgent issues found during a visit, which can then be more properly addressed following a full analysis of the information gathered during the visit and the writing of the report.