When a prisoner has a concern or complaint during his time in prison, there is no direct requirement for them to use the formal prison complaints system to report it. However, prisoners will often want to use a formal route to report such complaints to ensure this has been recorder and something is done to solve the problem. There must be no obstacle in a prisoners way if they so choose to use the formal complaints process.
How to make a complaint
Prisoners should have free access to the prison system complaints form, also known as a COMP1, on the prison wing, or sometimes kept in the residential area of the prison.
If a prisoner is unable to access this form, much like the majority of the prison forms, the prisoner may apply by letter, although the form provides a structure to help the prisoner include all the relevant information required.
Each prison wing should have a locked box where complaints forms can be posted.
The three stages to a complaint
There are three stages to dealing with a complaint, and each of these stages will be completed within the prison.
Once the complaint has been submitted on the COMP1, the prisoner can expect to receive a response from, usually, the wing office within approximately 5 days. The response will also be on a form COMP1.
If the prisoner is not satisfied with the response from the wing officer, the prisoner is to complete a COMP1A to appeal to someone at management level.
This application must be made within a week of receiving the first response. The Prisoner will need to detail their reasons why they are not happy with their first response.
A prisoner can expect to receive a response from someone at management level within 7 days of them receiving the application. This may differ slightly from prison to prison depending on the prison structure.
It is common, for a prison to receive an interim response from a person at management level when a decision is going to take longer than the recommended 7 days. This will contain the reason for a delay and the estimated conclusion date.
If a prisoner is still not happy with the response they have received, the next step would be to contact the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman within three months of receiving the Governors response.
This step will also be appropriate if the prisoner does not receive a response to stage 2 within 6 weeks.
Reserved complaints and requests
There are certain types of complaints and requests that cannot be considered internally within the prison, these include:
Complaints against the governor
Requests for artificial insemination
Early release on compassionate grounds
Issues surrounding Mother and Baby placements
Category A prisoners ( visitors, transfers, category complaints, change of name and marriage requests)
For more information on:
- A Confidential Access Complaint
- The Independent Monitoring Board
- Complaints to a Member of Parliament