Minton Morrill background image
  • Top Tier Law Firm
  • Medical Negligence
  • Inquest Law
  • Court of Protection
News and Events

Urgent Notification for HMP Exeter

  • Posted

The Chief Inspector of Prisons triggered the urgent notification process for HMP Exeter on 30 May 2018.

An unannounced inspection of HMP Exeter took place between 14 and 24 May 2018 which identified a number of significant concerns with regard to the treatment and conditions of prisoners. As a result the Chief Inspector of Prisons has decided to invoke the UN protocol process.

The principal reasons to invoke the UN protocol in respect of HMP Exeter were because since the last full inspection in August 2016, safety in the prison had significantly worsened in many respects, and had attracted the lowest possible grading of ‘poor’.

What is the UN Protocol between HMCIP and the MOJ

The protocol between HMCIP and the MOJ is a document that sets out the roles, powers and responsibilities of both bodies. The current version was published in November 2017.

Within this document the Urgent Notification Process is detailed which allows HMCIP to alert the Secretary of State of concerns it has following an inspection.

During an inspection of a prison, youth offender institution or secure training centre, the HMCIP may identify significant concerns with regard to the treatment of those detained. In such a case, HMCIP will write to the Secretary of State within 7 calendar days at the end of the inspection providing notification of the significant concerns and the reasons for those concerns. The notification will summarise the judgements and identify the issues that require improvement. The Governor of the institution is briefed about this intent.

Once the urgent notification letter is drafted, it is placed before the Secretary of State in the public domain.

HMCIP will use its own judgment to determine whether an urgent notification needs to be provided. Relevant factors evidenced during the inspection can include: 

  • Poor healthy prison test assessments;
  • The pattern of the healthy prison test judgements;
  • Repeated poor assessments;
  • The type of prison and the risks presented;
  • The vulnerability of those detained;
  • The failure to achieve recommendations;
  • The Inspectorate’s confidence in the prison’s capacity for change and improvement.

Having received the notification the Secretary of State commits to respond publicly within 28 calendar days. The response will explain how outcomes for prisoners in the institution will be improved in both the immediate and longer term.

The Inspectorate of Prisons will re-inspect the institution in due course at a date determined by its risk-based scheduling process. The inspection will report on progress made since the previous inspection.

The Chief Inspectorate of Prisons in his letter to the Ministry of Justice concluded “it is of great concern that the response to our recommendations made in respect of safety issues at the last inspection has been so poor. Across the full breadth of the previous inspection the number of recommendations achieved was also disappointingly small.”

The letter from the Chief Inspector of Prisons today has yet again highlighted concerns that so many in the civil liberties arena come across daily.  

Minton Morrill Solicitors specialist in representing bereaved families at inquests into deaths in custody and have repeatedly brought to light systemic failings within prisons which contribute to the deaths of those prisoners who are accommodated within them. It is therefore positive that more serious consideration is being given to implement urgent action within prison settings.

If you think you would like to speak with a member of the Minton Morrill Inquest/Police Actions Team, please call on 0113 245 8549 or contact us by email at