§ Mr. Alton
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what rules, instructions and guidelines are applicable to the strip-searching and intimate searching of male prisoners in Her Majesty's prisons; if he will place copies in the Library; and if he will make a statement;
(2) what rules, instructions and guidelines are applicable to the strip-searching and intimate searching of female prisoners in Her Majesty's prisons; if he will place copies in the Library; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Mellor
The following information relates to prison department establishments in England and Wales. Responsibility for establishments in Scotland and Northern Ireland rests with my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Scotland and for Northern Ireland.
The rules, instructions and guidelines relevant to these matters relate equally to male and female inmates.
General provisions on searching are contained in rule 39 of the Prison Rules 1964 and rule 43 of both the Youth Custody Centre Rules 1983 and Detention Centre Rules 1983, copies of which are available in the Library. These rules make it clear that prisoners (including remand prisoners) are to be searched on reception into a prison department establishment and subsequently as the governor thinks necessary. Standing instructions provide that the search on reception should be a strip search, and other times at which prisoners may be strip searched include before and after court appearances, before and after visits, at the time of cell changes and during wing and cell searches.
While an intimate search of a body orifice could be carried out under the provisions of the rules, no such search would be conducted without the consent of the inmate, or otherwise without special authorisation, which would be granted only in the most exceptional circumstances.
Detailed instructions on searching are contained in documents whose availability is restricted in the interests of security.