Prisoners’ Human Rights Violated by Unlawful Strip Searches

<p><img alt=”Prison” src=”″ style=”border-style:solid; border-width:0px; float:right; margin:2px 5px” />Civilised societies are measured by the humanity with which prisoners are treated. In a High Court case on point, four prison inmates who were subjected to unlawful strip searches which violated their human rights have won the right to compensation.</p>

<p>Three women and a transgender man were intimately searched at a prison run by a private contractor on behalf of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). After they launched proceedings, the contractor admitted that there had been a systemic failure to follow government guidance on the conduct of strip searches and that their human right to respect for privacy &ndash; enshrined in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights &ndash; had been breached.</p>

<p>The MoJ resisted the claims on the basis that the prison was inspected three times a year and that the contractor&rsquo;s performance was carefully monitored by independent agencies. The Court, however, noted that those measures had not proved adequate or effective in ensuring that the prisoners&rsquo; rights were respected. In particular, there had been a failure to ensure that the contractor&rsquo;s staff were properly trained in the conduct of strip searches.</p>

<p>The Court found numerous serious, systemic and widespread failures at the prison over the relevant period. The contractor&rsquo;s staff had treated strip searches as routine and had proceeded straight to the most intrusive form of search, without first carrying out rub downs or hand-held metal detector scans.</p>

<p>The Court granted the prisoners a declaration to the effect that the MoJ had failed in the positive obligation placed upon it by Article 8 to supervise and monitor the prison&rsquo;s management during the relevant period. The amount of damages payable to the prisoners by the contractor has yet to be assessed.</p>