Home > Law & Enforcement > Your Rights as a Prisoner or Detainee

Your Rights as a Prisoner or Detainee

By: Liz Lennox - Updated: 22 Jul 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Crime Prison Law Prisoners Murder Legal

The word ‘detainee’ tends to evoke media pictures of inmates at Guantanamo Bay or remind us of articles about supposed secret internment camps for terrorists and suspected terrorists. In a sense this is correct and, for the purpose of this article, I will assume this as the meaning and also include prisoners held in UK prisons on ‘remand’, i.e. being held pending trial.

Do Suspected Criminals Have Rights?

Of course they do. They are members of the human race, this great big family that we call ‘people’. They are entitled to share in the same protection that the rest of enjoy. They may have to suffer curtailment of certain rights, such as personal liberty and the right to vote, but they are still afforded the protection of the Human Rights Act, the European Convention on Human Rights and the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights.

What About Terrorists?

Yes, they have rights in exactly the same way; they still have freedom of speech. The fact that we do not condone or agree with their methods does not mean that our laws do not allow them to express their opinion; as a democratic society we just don’t want them to shatter lives and cause wide-scale slaughter. Their continued detention is the cause of much wide-spread debate; is it lawful to detain someone for years at a time? The US Supreme Court and, I would suspect, the European Court would say absolutely not, however the sovereign states have the power to curtail the rights of these people for the sake of national security.

Treatment in Detention

The Courts must have a solid reason for holding people in Prison without trial, there must be a clear danger that the person in question will re-offend, attempt to intimidate witnesses or abscond and try to avoid standing trial altogether. However, and for whatever the reason, the people being held must be afforded as much personal freedom as is reasonably practical and they tend not to be subject to as much restriction as convicted inmates; for instance, there is no restriction on contact with family and friends via letter or phone.

Just as with convicted prisoners, the people being held on remand or detained for other reasons, be they mental health reasons or while awaiting a decision on immigration, must be afforded the protection from harm that is their right. They cannot be discriminated against by virtue of their race, colour, religious beliefs, sexual orientation or political views. If prisoners are charged with a crime that is sexual in nature, they must also be segregated for their own protection.

The Basic Point is This...

Every human being, be they prisoner, detainee, terrorist or asylum seeker has the basic human right to be treated with dignity and respect. They have the right to food, housing, protection, education and assistance from the law. They have the right not to be exploited, tortured or intimidated. As a country we have agreed to abide by the European Convention on Human Rights, as a nation we have the Human Rights Act to protect us from those who would seek to harm us or prevent us from enjoying our civil liberties.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
Blondie - Your Question:
My fiance was arrested Jan 28 he's still there and has no court date he's only seen a judge when he first got there. Has not healthy and he's on medication but I think he's had a stroke but I can't see him cause the jail only lets immediate family visit please I'm scared they are gonna kill him in there

Our Response:
Talk to his family if they can visit. They will also be able to ask prison staff about your fiancé's health.
AboutHumanRights - 25-Jul-18 @ 1:53 PM
My fiance was arrested Jan 28 he's still there and has no court date he's only seen a judge when he first got there. Has not healthy and he's on medication but I think he's had a stroke but I can't see him cause the jail only lets immediate family visit please I'm scared they are gonna kill him in there
Blondie - 22-Jul-18 @ 9:44 PM
Hi please can you help. My partner was stitched up at a prison he was in and it was 13 weeks ago. The things apparrently found were removed from the cell by the screws without pics taken first and by police. They then left the cell.open and everyone went in and took his things. The cell door and window were both broke so easily acessible. My partner seriously does not know about them and no finger prints of his were on the drugs etc either. The peison did not follow protocol at all and there for contaminated the drugs themselves by removing them. The police rang the prison he is in 3 weeks ago and said they will be going up. They turned up 10 mins late after a 2 hour drive and the prison wouldnt let them in. Apparently they have told the solicitor that they wanted to ask him one question. Apparently it came back positive for something and they just want to ask him if he has anything to say about it. This was 2 weeks ago and we have not heard from them since. My partner has been in 10 years and is due out in a few months. I feel they are trying to stitch him up to keep him in. We cant plan for the future because now we dont know what the police are doing.
Grace - 11-Jun-18 @ 8:23 PM
My partner is a lifer and was told he had to serve a minimum 13 and a half yrs he as now done 12 with gud behaviour lowest of risks done all courses was told he's parole hearing was 27th oct still today he is still waiting he specks with the omu etc in the prison and just being shrugged off he's at he's wits end with it now as he is entitled to he's open prison anyone have any suggestions what he could do about getting the parole hearing ASAP plz
H - 9-Mar-18 @ 9:58 PM
My nephews are being accused of aggravated assault,the victim says the pointed a gun at her all while driving,1of my nephews has a record the other 3 none,,they tell me she’s lien.we are gonna fight that charge,we want to press charges back especially cuz she’s lien,and if goes to prison with this charge his life will be in danger,,but we press charges and she can just flee back to Mexico.why is this fair
Tan - 1-Mar-18 @ 8:35 AM
This maybe a stupid question but I genuinely can't find the answer anywhere.. I have fertility issues, my partner is in prison and has been there for almost 3 years. He has another 15 months left on his sentence. Are prisoners allowed to go through fertility treatment? Literally just sending sperm to be used for IVF? I can't find anything about this. Thanks in advance.
Jane - 26-Oct-17 @ 10:50 PM
My son whose 19 was on remand at an a cat prison but has just been sentenced to 20 months for procession with intent .. will he be transferred to a c cat and if do how long will that take
Gin - 19-Oct-17 @ 8:20 AM
dee - Your Question:
My husband has recently been moved prison he is a B cat prisoner and has been moved to a A cat prison where he has trouble with other inmates he told the previous prison this before he transferred but they went ahead and transferred him anyway. the worse part is that he was granted a move to a therapeutic prison and was meant to transfer there but then they moved him to a A cat prison so now he has to start the whole application again which im guessing is going to take months. this new prison is to far so now his support from family and myself is limited. he was a peer support worker helping other inmates with prison life and to stay off drugs and now he wanted help for himself they have thrown him into a different prison to prolong it. can he get a fast track move to the therapeutic prison as he was accepted? can he apply for a solicitor for this matter? and get legal aid?

Our Response:
It's unlikely he will get legal aid. He can write to the prison governor and sometimes letters of support from family members are accepted too. Try the offenders families helpline for more information
AboutHumanRights - 12-Apr-17 @ 12:54 PM
my husband has recently been moved prison he is a B cat prisoner and has been moved to a A cat prison where he has trouble with other inmates he told the previous prison this before he transferred but they went ahead and transferred him anyway. the worse part is that he was granted a move to a therapeutic prison and was meant to transfer there but then they moved him to a A cat prison so now he has to start the whole application again which im guessing is going to take months. this new prison is to far so now his support from family and myself is limited. he was a peer support worker helping other inmates with prison life and to stay off drugs and now he wanted help for himself they have thrown him into a different prison to prolong it. can he get a fast track move to the therapeutic prison as he was accepted? can he apply for a solicitor for this matter? and get legal aid?
dee - 11-Apr-17 @ 10:10 AM
Years ago I lived in Dubai, lost my job due to the global credit crisis in 2009. Couldn't find another job, I had a loan and one credit card. I fleed the country as I knew I would go to prison if I forfeited a payment. Once safe I got a job and was contacted by a debt collection agency, I paid my entire debt off and was proud. I received statements proving this and all paperwork and told my debt was cleared. This past week I had a layover for 3 hrs in Dubai before my connecting flight, got called via intercom to go to gate in airport where I was escorted off the premises by 6 policeman. I was placed in jail for 2 nights, humiliated, shouted at, placed in handcuffs, couldn't sleep, couldn't eat. Went to court not understanding what was going on - finally someone helped me - had to pay a fine of £3k only to find out none of my money of £9k debt ever reached the bank I owed money to in Dubai. Once back in uk I reported this to said debt agency where they sent remittance proving all my payments and said that they acted on behalf of another debt collection agency. This has been a distressing ordeal. Only my parents know what happened and I don't know what to do in terms of legal aid or help I can get. I need to find out who is accountable, been told it's accompany Total Credit Management and have requested their details. I can't believe what I've been put through, it's been an absolute nightmare and I feel so lost and alone. Please help me.
Pippa - 25-Jan-17 @ 9:24 PM
Fight 4 Loony - Your Question:
My sister is in prison serving her time for her crime, 2 weeks ago her son my nephew was involved in a serious road accident he was on life support for 6 days, the prison after a lot of phone calls on my part the prison allowed my sister to visit the hospital once on the monday and then on the Friday when hospital turned off his life support, whilst at the hospital my sisters ex my nephews father was acting flash telling the prison offers he don't want my sister at the funeral making threats to her life and any officers that come with her. my sister has 5 sons the remaining 4 told the prison officers he the dad was all mouth and that their mum my sister would not be in any danger, and they needed her my sister is away for theft, is not violent, the prison have just today told my sister she will not be allowed to attend her son's funeral, even though every member of her family has reassured the prison, my sister was absolutely devastated, she is in Send prison which prison locks down at 9pm no medical no chaplain no support , because she is destressed they have locked her in a ?safe room? No comfort no tv no phone calls I believe this is inhumane treatment and mental torture. How can we appeal this decision the funeral is this friday 4th Nov what are they going to do to her????

Our Response:
There are some organisations which might be able to offer individual help. Try:
Family Lives
Offenders' Families
Prison Advice Service
Each of these also has a helpline.
AboutHumanRights - 3-Nov-16 @ 12:31 PM
My sister is in prison serving her time for her crime, 2 weeks ago her son my nephew was involved in a serious road accident he was on life support for 6 days, the prison after a lot of phone calls on my part the prison allowed my sister tovisit the hospitalonce on the monday and then on the Friday when hospital turned off his life support, whilst at the hospital my sisters ex my nephews father was acting flash telling the prison offers he don't want my sister at the funeral making threatsto her life and any officers that come with her. my sister has 5 sons the remaining 4 told the prison officers he the dad was all mouth and that their mum my sister would not be in any danger, and they needed her my sister is away for theft, is not violent, the prison have just todaytold my sister she will not be allowed to attend her son's funeral, even though every member of her family has reassured the prison, my sister was absolutelydevastated,she is in Send prison which prison locks down at 9pm no medical no chaplain no support , because she is destressed they have locked her in a ?safe room? No comfort no tv no phone calls I believe this is inhumane treatment and mental torture. How can we appeal this decision the funeral is this friday 4th Nov what are they going to do to her????
Fight 4 Loony - 3-Nov-16 @ 12:10 AM
My husband got locked up and been in there for at least 3 weeks so my question is he had a arrangement and I believe that Arrangement means the chance to make a plea he never spoke to a public defender or was offered any information at all I would like to know is it legal for a public defender to go to a arrangement with no regulations of his defendant and request a trial date so now he had a trial date for July 4th but he never met his anybody so he don't know what's going on that's not legal the whole case is bizarre they have the wrong person mistaken identity but he can't make it because she already have a job right now and never went to arrangement
LOVE - 31-Oct-16 @ 4:04 AM
Hi ya may be you can help I was arrested and lock up in the cells until next day. But when locking me up they had not put the right name for me at the police station so when my legal team try and find me at the police station the police say I am not there and so did my family but has with solicitor no I wasn't there now I am going to crown court with a legal team I shouldn't off had is this right Thanks for any help
Andrew - 28-Jun-16 @ 8:25 PM
Hi my husband has been taken to hospital from prison. I'm not allowed to see him and he is not able to call me. It's been almost a week now. Does he still have the right to use the phone even though he's in hospital. All I no is that he is still in hospital but don't no what for or how long. I'm really worried. Any help appreciated thanks
Sirz - 28-Apr-16 @ 2:03 PM
Tano - Your Question:
My grandson went,with some twenty five/thirty of he friends to cream fields Warrington. He was elected the keeper of some banned pills. Don't know what they were called.after some hours there a security man asked him if he had any pills on him,saying that if he did he would take them and say no more about it. So he gave up the pills,, some 19 pills,we are told with a street value of £250. The security man then informed the police of these pill,that were for his and his mates use,during the time they were to spend at this cream fields place. The police took him to the police station and locked him in a cell (he had never never ever been in trouble in his life before this cream fields business.) the police told him if he confessed to having these pills that they would let him go home.they questioned him without a solicitor ,then showed him the door. He had to walk from Cheshire police station to home in WIdnes as they had taken all of his money. It took him two days before he told us of his arrest.and the business with the security guard and the police. We eventually went to Chester crown court.he pleaded guilty in the belief that he would get community service. The judge. Judge Dugan gave him two years and two months in prison. Despite the plee for mercy of his barrister and the excellent probation report that was presented to the judge. A security guard from the same site had £17000 worth of pills and drugs,was given a sentence of three years.and the stuff he had was for sale.obveiously not for his own use.it's not justice. And he was told lies,just to obtain a conviction. Sad sad.I need some proper advice.

Our Response:
This is not something that would be covered under Human Rights legislation. What does your son's barrister say about this?
AboutHumanRights - 28-Apr-16 @ 10:05 AM
My grandson went,with some twenty five/thirty of he friends to cream fields Warrington .. He was elected the keeper of some banned pills.. Don't know what they were called.after some hours there a security man asked him if he had any pills on him,saying that if he did he would take them and say no more about it.. So he gave up the pills,, some 19 pills,we are told with a street value of £250... The security man then informed the police of these pill,that were for his and his mates use,during the time they were to spend at this cream fields place.. The police took him to the police station and locked him in a cell (he had never never ever been in trouble in his life before this cream fields business.) the police told him if he confessed to having these pills that they would let him go home..they questioned him without a solicitor ,then showed him the door. .. He had to walk fromCheshire police station to home in WIdnes as they had taken all of his money.. It took him two days before he told us of his arrest.and the business with the security guard and the police.. We eventually went to Chester crown court.he pleaded guilty in the belief that he would get community service. The judge. Judge Dugan gave him two years and two months in prison. Despite the plee for mercyof his barrister and the excellent probation report that was presented to the judge.. A security guard from the same site had £17000 worth of pills and drugs,was given a sentence of three years..and the stuff he had was for sale.obveiously not for his own use...it's not justice.. And he was told lies,just to obtain a conviction.. Sad sad..I need some proper advice...
Tano - 27-Apr-16 @ 1:57 AM
iam in contact with someone in prison who is serving 5 years for a drugs offence the prison service have lowered his methodone treatment from over 70 mls to just over 20 mils he has used methodone for 24 years and was under a doctor who would never of lowered his treatment because of his knowledge of the prisoners past I cant say what it is but lowering the methodone has brought back some many bad bad memories for him and to be honest iam scared he may do something because he is not coping at all who can help him or help me help him I have tried a few options like citizens advice but nothing seems to be working can you tell me where I or he should be looking to for help I would really appreciate any help you can give me.many many thanks.
jenny wren - 28-Sep-15 @ 7:17 PM
continuation Dr Green refused to make corrections to my medical notes. I wrote to CAMHS explaining the inaccuracies attaching the medical records. The following day Dr Green called the social worker and asked them to check my parental capacity, stating that I bring my daughter Amelie without any apparent reason to the doctors. The social worker closed the case. In his report he suggested that I am influencing Amelie and potentially harming her referring to GP’s concerns. CAFCASS made another report in March 2015 and he agreed with the social worker's assumptions based on Dr Green - a professional's opinion! They present as the “EVIDENCE” our frequent visits to doctors! 1. CAFCASS mentions in his report that my daughter is frightened of her father, that his partner says that I am a liar and that she is bored at his place and doesn't like to stay there overnight. He doesn't criticise the father at all, instead he makes a huge number of assumptions about me. 2. The paediatrician explained in his letter (March 2015) to my GP that my daughter has an irritable bladder that why she experiences the urine infection symptoms but the test do not show any growth. 3. CAMHS are looking into the case but they don't want to get involved with the court proceedings and they made sure that they see Amelie AFTER the court hearing. 4. The school holds the notes of my daughter saying to the school staff about her anxieties about her visits to her dad's and the girl at school whom she has some problems with. The school is not even allowing me to see those records. I am trying to see the headmistress for nearly 2 months now. I would never believe she is ever so busy! They treat me with suspicion and told Amelie in front of me that I am a worrier.I believe the reason for it is my Ex is the school governor. The solicitors in Exeter recommended me not to take my child to any professionals anymore. This is just ridiculous. The solicitors refuse to write a letter to the doctors surgery to ask them to present the credible evidence for Dr Green's concerns. The solicitors are convinced that the case is too complicated and nobody will look into it. The surgery wouldn't go against one of its ' doctors.
Ella - 22-Apr-15 @ 11:16 PM
Dear Human rights UK My name is Ella, I am a divorced, full time working mum. I live in Exeter with my lovely daughter Amelie. I am in a very difficult situation and I am at a loss to understand the justice and the current family law in regard to parental contact. I am the main carer for my 7 year old daughter who sees her dad regularly, every second weekend with one overnight stay. He left us 2 years ago. Since then he is constantly pushing for the extension of contact. We started with more overnight stays 2 years ago, but it didn't go very well.My daughter's performance dropped at school together with her emotional and physical state. You don't need to be a psychologist to understand that it was too much for a 5 years old child to accept that her daddy lives with another woman and her 2 children aged 9 and 11 years old. I stopped overnight contact in May 2014 for a while because my daughter was distressed and developed phobias and sleepless nights. She refused to go to her dad's place. I offered any day contact instead, but her father didn’t accept it. He made an application to the court to extend the overnight stay and accused me of poisoning my child and in her abduction.He had to withdraw his allegations during the Court Hearing (01 October 2014) as there was no substance to them and I believe they were made to weaken my position. The Court adviser (CAFCASS) made a report in which he gave a recommendation to reintroduce the overnight contact when the child is a little bit older. 2 weeks after we had a court hearing when the same CAFCASS officer strongly recommended reintroducing overnight contact immediately. I had to compromise and agreed on gradual re-introduction of the contact. Unfortunately my daughter wasn't ready and happy about it and her phobias and anxieties returned and worsened. She was worried, she didn't sleep well at all, she started bedwetting, Amelie was experiencing urine infection symptoms and aches all over her body. I was very worried and I had to take her to the doctors very often during that stressful time, but all the tests' results returned as normal. Amelie really likes Dr Smith and she was sharing her fears and anxieties about the visits at her dad's with Dr Smith. Dr Smith made two referrals to social services expressing her concerns about Amelie going to her dad's overnight. The social services didn't want to get involved explaining that it the matter of family law arena and the dispute between the parents. My ex bombarded the surgery with the statements that I want to stop him seeing his daughter, that I am emotionally unstable and that I am not keeping him updated on his daughter's health issues, which wasn't true. Our formal GP Dr Green who saw Amelie only once, called me and mostly shouted at me accusing me in getting them involved in the conflict. In her referral to CAMHS she made a couple of inaccuracies based on what she heard from my ex rather than on the
Ella - 22-Apr-15 @ 11:13 PM
My partner was sentenced to life serve min of 5 years he has now served over 14 years but in that space of time he has been declared as deceased he went for parole got into d cat but after being there for4 months he absconded as he was being held with high amount of paedophiles and sex offenders none of tg prison staff listened to his concern we are desperate to get him home asap any advise is truly greatful, we just want him home now not visiting once a fortnight if anyone can help we would forever be in ur debt thanks for reading (crime commited was robbery with imitation firearm
mickslady - 17-Dec-14 @ 12:12 AM
My partner and his friend went into a prison as convicted prisoners for a crime that his friend fully admitted to committing, though this was not enough for the Jury. The prison has said that there have been recent changes to various areas and this has been due to their cut in staff employed. My partner has had a reception visit but none of his 2 a month he is entitled to. We want to do an application for appeal against the conviction and sentence and he needs to meet with me to discuss the content of the appeal as it appears the solicitor is not interested, but he has said that the staff on his level at the prison are very lazy and have so far not responded to 4 separate requests he has made for visits. It takes over a week for letters to get to me & he has only a few days left to submit an application for appeal, which we have no hope of doing at this point. I contacted the charity connected to the prison stating my concern for his mental health welfare and received no response, though they said they would. I contacted the prison directly and spoke to the department concerned for prisoner welfare and they said they would look in on him, I spoke to him and he has said that nobody has been in to see him. He has made suicidal attempts in the past, so my concerns are not being taken seriously. I feel as though his rights to see family & access the justice system are being violated, but there is fear that should he or I put in a complaint, he will be mistreated by officers. Having known people who have worked in the prison service, our fears are very real. Though this article is very helpful in knowing his rights, accessing them seems to be a massive challenge that can't be won. As someone once said to me, "the prison service is the most secretive organisation in the UK. No one really knows what goes on behind the doors".
Livid - 24-Aug-14 @ 9:58 PM
My brother has been in prison for 6 months, after 12 weeks of requesting to have his hair cut he looks like the hobbit and still no one is paying attention! Can they do this? If not how do I go about making an official complaint as clearly they are paying no attention to my brother and his requests.
Pitta - 28-Jan-13 @ 9:10 PM
I have a friend in prison who is currently aaiting sentencing, end of November, and he is petrified because he is AN INNOCENT MAN.He was charged with cruelty which included sexual offences against is daughters these never took place.The jury were led to believe this was a neglect case.The defence lawyers were useless, bullying him into agreeing to what statements and witnesses to have in court.They did not allow my friend time to prepare his case and it seemed a foregone conclusion he was guilty.His solicitor was awful not passing on pertinent information to his barrister.Because of the solicitors failing my friend will probably be sentenced from 18 - 20 years.The solicitor also screwed up his bail application and refuses to help with an appeal.The barristers comments about not going for an appeal are unbelievably ridiculous!As they refuse to appeal this means my friend is no longer allowed legal aid.He or his parents (they're elderly) cannot afford to pay privately.Can someone please help us?
Etty - 15-Nov-12 @ 10:31 AM
My brother is in prison for a violent crime.He has contacted his sons school for annual pictures and school reports.They have refused because the Mum has said no and used the previous crime against my brother.Where can my brother go from here?
wigster - 7-Aug-12 @ 8:20 PM
My beloved partner has been held in prison for something he never done wrong we have a new baby at home plus 4 other children to be looked after how can any body in there right frame of mind think for one minute this is ok on the first hand i suffer from i.b.s with back nearves and he has menal health problems please can somebody help us thanks for reading this
jailbird - 22-Apr-12 @ 8:40 AM
UK Immigration continously voilate human rights laws with such audacity that they dont even think that they could be draged into court for these voilations, I am one of those detainees, 3 days before removing me from UK, they took my phone and continously ensure me that you will be given one and you will be interviewed by an officer but it never happened. is this the voilation of law or not?
Kamran - 17-Mar-12 @ 6:59 AM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the AboutHumanRights website. Please read our Disclaimer.