PrisoninEuropeOverviewandtrends.pdf

The national laws authorize the use of force only as

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in case of resistance to officer’s orders, as prescribed by the European Prison Rules. The national laws authorize the use of force only as a last resort but, in practice, it is used often and in several cases without compliance with the rules. This has been emphasized by several reports, particularly by the Italian, the French, the Portuguese and that of the United Kingdom (specially in relation to juveniles). The French report underlined how the director of the prison has to be informed of every use of force, but in practice, this report is often incomplete or absent. If the criteria for using force are not respected by the agent, they could constitute acts of violence that might involve his/her penal responsibility. However the judicial proceedings of such acts are rare because the hierarchy of the prison and the judges in charge of the case often justify the use of force, even excessive force, by the behaviour of the prisoner and by saying “how hard this job is” (cf. Prison conditions in France). The Portuguese report highlighted a wide and indiscriminate use of force by the officers, without any sort of professionalism or respect for the physical integrity of the prisoners. In the Portuguese prison the use of force becomes legitimated whenever order is arbitrarily declared to be at risk” (cf. Prison conditions in Portugal). Another very important issue to discuss is access to prison of other law enforcement agencies. The European Prison Rules assert that “Staff of other law enforcement agencies shall only be involved in dealing with prisoners inside prisons in exceptional circumstances” (67.1), “There shall be a formal agreement between the prison authorities and any such other law enforcement agencies unless the relationship is already regulated by domestic law” (67.2). This agreement should stipulate: “the circumstances in which members of other law enforcement agencies may enter a prison to deal with any conflict, the extent of the authority which such other law enforcement agencies shall have while they are in the prison and their relationship with the director of the prison, the various types of force that members of such agencies may use, the circumstances in which each type of force may be used, the level of authority required before any force is used, the reports that must be completed once force has been used”(67.3). The national reports highlight that everywhere other law enforcement agencies may enter the prison only in exceptional circumstances, for example in case of prisoners’ disobedience, revolts, riots etc. These cases are generally very rare. About the use of instruments of restraint, the European Prison Rules prescribe that “The use of chains and irons shall be prohibited” (68.1), and that some instruments such as handcuffs, restraint jacket and other body restraints should be used only “if necessary, as a precaution against escape during a transfer, provided that they shall be removed when the prisoner appears before a judicial or administrative authority unless that authority decides otherwise, or by order of the director, if other INSTRUMENTS OF RESTRAINS AND WEAPONS
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