United Kingdom - OPCAT Situation

OPCAT Status

OPCAT ratification date
OPCAT ratification comment

On 24 February 2014, the UK extended OPCAT ratification to the territory of the Isle of Man

Uncat ratification Date
NPM Type

Multiple Institutions

NPM Designated

21 bodies were designated as part of the UK NPM, coordinated by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons - Click for a complete list

The United Kingdom has been one of the strongest supporters of the OPCAT internationally. It ratified the OPCAT in December 2003 and designated 18 existing oversight bodies as the UK’s NPM through a ministerial statement to the Parliament in March 2009. In December 2013, a further written ministerial statement was issued to correct the title of one body and add two institutions to the UK's NPM. In January 2016, another institution was appointed as member of the NPM through written ministerial statement.

The NPM is currently composed of 21 institutions.Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) acts as the coordinating body of the UK’s NPM. Each designated institution has a specific thematic mandate under the OPCAT.

In 2014, the government also extended the NPM mandate to the Isle of Man, a British Crown Dependency, where three existing institutions have been designated as the NPM.

The SPT member who is the SPT Focal Point for the United Kingdom is available here.

NPM Structure

Business meetings are held two times per year and attended by all members of the UK’s NPM. At the June 2014 Business meeting, the NPM members adopted a guidance document to ensure the independence of NPM personnel.

Chairperson

In 2014, NPM members agreed to appoint an independent chair "to strengthen its governance and to advise and support the NPM in fulfilling its OPCAT mandate". John Wadham, the NPM’s first independent chair, was appointed in April 2016.

Coordination

Given the scale and complexity of the UK’s NPM, its members decided that Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) would be the NPM coordinating body. The purpose of coordination is to promote cohesion and a shared understanding of OPCAT among the NPM members, to encourage collaboration and the sharing of information and good practice, and to facilitate joint activities. Nonetheless, the independence of individual members and their ability to set their priorities for detention monitoring are still respected.

Decisions are taken by the HMIP on behalf of the NPM members only before consulting with them and securing consensus.

Steering group

To address the challenges of coordinating 20 members and securing consensus, it was agreed to establish a steering group, composed of five members, including HMIP and one member from each of the four nations. It started its work in January 2012 and meets four times a year. Its role is to facilitate decision making, set strategies for joint work, monitor the work and support the NPM coordinator in its role (see Terms of Reference of the steering group, Appendix 3 of the UK NPM Annual Report 2013-2014).

Sub-groups

Three sub-groups were established within the UK NPM:

  • Sub-group on children and young people’s, coordinated by the Office for the Children’s Commissioner for England.
  • Sub-group on mental health, chaired by the Care Quality Commission.
  • Sub-group composed of the Scottish members of the UK NPM and chaired by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland, aimed at coordinating the NPM activities in Scotland,
Annual reports

The activities and findings of the UK’s NPM members are described in their individual annual reports.

Each year, the UK’s NPM publishes a report of its joint activities, coordination, OPCAT implementation in the UK and key issues considered by the NPM members, which are available on the NPM's website.

In 2014, the UK NPM undertook a review of its first five years of work, which included a self-assessment exercise using the SPT's analytical self-assessment tool for NPMs, feedback from the SPT and a meeting with different stakeholders, including the APT, to present and discuss the findings from the self-assessment exercise. The main findings from the self-assessment, as well as a summary of the discussions held during the five-year anniversary meeting are included in the NPM 2013-2014 Annual Report. The UK NPM also published a factsheet on the first five years of NPM operations (2009-2014), highlighting the achievements in the establishment process, monitoring work and commenting on legislation and policy. These are available on the NPM's website.

Other Reports

The UK’s NPM members may publish thematic reports and visit reports on an individual basis, which may be available on their websites.