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Former prisoner loses challenge over full body strip searches

The legal challenge over the policy of full body searching of prisoners in Maghaberry was considered by the Court of Appeal on 30th June 2014. 

Previous High Court decisions had ruled that the prison’s policy was proportionate and lawful.  The case came before the Court of Appeal for a decision on whether an inflexible approach was taken by prison authorities in respect of full body searching of non-compliant prisoners.

The Court noted that the general policy on full body searches did include a provision for a proportionate exception.  The Court cited individual incidents of prisoners who were not subject to such searches even though they did not fall within the strict wording of the exception provision.   The Court concluded that it had not been established that there was a ‘total inflexibility on the part of the Prison Service in the operation of the policy.’

Click here for coverage from The Belfast Telegraph. 

Another case involving prisoners’ rights is that concerning voting in the Scottish Independence Referendum.  Two British nationals, both serving life sentences, alleged that provisions prohibiting prisoner voting in the forthcoming Referendum breach their human rights.  Their challenge hinged on repeated rulings by ECtHR that the UK’s ban on inmates voting in elections is a breach of their convention rights. 

Their case was heard before the Supreme Court on 24th July.  The Supreme Court followed earlier rulings and upheld that European Court rulings did not include referendums, and were limited to elections.  The Supreme Court has not yet issued a detailed ruling.  For further reading click here for an article from the BBC.

Local Developments, Prisoners' Rights