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14 February 2019

Amendments to adjudication procedures

From the start of February 2019, an updated instruction comes into effect which covers adjudications – PSI 05/2018 Prisoner Discipline Procedures (Adjudications). This replaces PSI 47/2011 which previously dealt with the subject. It also has also been combined with policy on recovering money for damages to prisons and prison property, previously in PSI 31/2013 which is also cancelled as a result.

The summary explains that the new document is the first stage in a process of reviewing adjudications in prison which will eventually result in a Policy Framework on the subject – the new form of guidance documents which we have mentioned in recent articles.

Prison Reform Trust expect to be consulted on the development of adjudications policy in the meantime so, as always, would welcome any views or experiences you are willing to share on the subject.

This stage of the review has not radically changed overall discipline procedures, so it should remain familiar to anyone who previously understood it. Some of the changes reflect bulletins to governors since the last update and so should have already been put into practice. Helpfully, there is a table of amendments included in Annex G of the PSI which mean that you can check where the changes have been made. The following are some of the most significant amendments:

  • The PSI includes detail about the use of CCTV or Body Worn Video Camera (BWVC) footage as evidence for adjudications. The prison should allow evidence of this type to be viewed by yourself and any legal adviser at the prison, with failure to allow this likely to lead to any guilty finding being quashed. If there is a reason for not allowing you to view the footage, perhaps for security or data protection reasons, then the footage cannot be used as evidence to support any adjudication.
  • In relation to Incentives and Earned Privileges, it says that ‘adjudicators should consider requesting a review of any IEP action where a prisoner is found not guilty at an adjudication in relation to the same incident’.
  • There are some added equality considerations, such as accounting for mobility difficulties or other disabilities in relation to hearing room layout, and considering literacy and language difficulties to make sure someone understands what is happening.

Annex A still contains details of adjudication procedures. Some notable changes include:

  • There is additional emphasis on the point that ‘threat of punishment must not form part of the prison strategy for dealing with self-harm or attempted self-harm’.
    There are added prompts for adjudicators to check fitness for hearing as a standard part of adjudication procedures.
  • When considering punishment, it clarifies adjudicators responsibility to consider risk factors in open ACCTs or ACCTs closed within the last 3 months.
  • It clarifies that discipline procedures should continue when someone transfers prison before a hearing, and that adjudication paperwork should be sent to the receiving prison for this to happen.
  • There are clear references to staff responsibilities to hand particular forms to prisoners, such as the DIS 7 which gives details of punishments given.
  • It includes further detail about the principles of natural justice in relation to length of time for adjournments, but no longer includes the 6 week guideline.

Annex B now contains guidance about different charges, including the wording which should be used to lay the charge and proof to be considered. The following guidance has been added:

  • Guidance that foreign national prisoners and detainees can have charges laid against them for not complying with Home Office Requirements – for example, refusing to attend a pre-arranged interview with the Home Office.
  • Advice to staff about charging people who have assisted in drone related activity or been non-compliant with smoke-free policy.
  • Advice to staff that prisoners who permit photographs to be taken of them in prison and/or allow a photograph to be uploaded onto social networking sites can be charged with failing to comply with rules, but only if a local document exists making it clear that this is a rule.
  • Charges have been updated to reflect an amendment to Prison and YOI Rules which means someone can be charged if a substance is found in their urine that demonstrates that a controlled drug or specified drug has been administered. A list of substances relating to ‘specified drugs’ can be found in the Prison and YOI Rules.

If you would like a copy of the new PSI please feel free to contact us and we would be happy to send it to you. If you are not familiar with adjudications process we can also provide you with general information to help you gain a better understanding about what should happen.

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