Supreme Court finds segregation of prisoners is unlawful

In R (Bourgass and Hussain) v Secretary of State for Justice the Supreme Court has ruled today that the practice of segregating prisoners for more than 72 hours without authorisation by someone independent of the prison is unlawful. This practice is routine across the prison estate in England and Wales and the Supreme Court, in a unanimous judgment given by Lord Reed, has found that it undermines the safeguards contained in the Prison Rules. The Supreme Court recognised that segregation can have a serious and lasting impact on prisoners' mental health, which underlined the importance of having robust safeguards against its improper or unnecessarily prolonged use. The Secretary of State for Justice will now have to put systems and procedures in place to ensure that segregation that lasts for more than 72 hours is independently authorised.


The judgment also found that the segregation of the two appellant prisoners was unlawful because it failed to comply with the rules of procedural fairness, which require prisoners to be given reasons for their segregation so that they may challenge it.


The Appellants were represented by Dinah Rose QC of Blackstone Chambers and Dan Squires of Matrix Chambers, instructed by Daniel Guedalla of Birnberg Pierce and Partners. Edward Fitzgerald QC and Martha Spurrier represented the intervener, the Howard League for Penal Reform, in this case. 


To view the full judgement please see here.  

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