PPO publish first ‘Policy into Practice’ publication

The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman have issued a new publication today, ‘Policy into Practice’, which is the first in a series, designed to share learning from our investigations with frontline staff.

The PPO actively feeds into HMPPS policy consultations, using learning from our investigations to influence and shape prison policy. While securing changes to policy is important, we know that it does not always mean practices change in prisons.

Our ‘Policy into Practice’ series will show why policy needs to be put into practice. The series will focus on linking PPO learning in areas where we make repeat recommendations to new policy frameworks, helping frontline staff and policy teams to positively enhance operational delivery.

Policy into Practice: Use of restraints on escort

Front cover of Policy into Practice: Use of restraints on escort publication

The PPO repeatedly makes recommendations about the use of restraints on escort and over the years, we have continued to see far too many cases in which elderly, frail and, or unwell prisoners with limited mobility were escorted to hospital in handcuffs. Some remained restrained until shortly before they died. We shared this learning to influence changes to the External Escorts Policy Framework and we are pleased these were accepted.

The policy framework sets out the standard level of restraints for each prisoner security category. However, the policy makes it clear that this should only be adopted after an individual risk assessment has been completed. We recommended changes should be made to the risk assessment form, including changes to the section completed by healthcare staff. We hope that emphasis on input from healthcare staff will improve the treatment of prisoners during stressful medical situations, and we hope the new escort risk assessment form, alongside the framework, will help staff distinguish between the risk of escape from someone in custody who is fit compared to someone who has a serious medical condition.

We also suggested that the new policy framework clarifies the position on the use of escort chains, so they are not used as a less secure form of restraint. We are pleased the new policy addresses this issue and that escort chains must only be used in the circumstances approved on the escort risk assessment.

We are grateful to HMPPS for including this publication in the policy framework’s annex, and we hope that it will increase the impact of our work on the actions of the services in remit, and the day to day lives of those in custody. The new series of ‘Policy into Practice’ publications will not only help promote policy to frontline staff, but also promote our positive work. We also hope for a reduction in repeat recommendations made by us as a result of highlighting learning and policy changes.

Read the publication here