Criticism of the Prison and Probation Service and a prosecutor for improper handling of correspondence sent by a person deprived of their liberty to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen

An administrator at the Prison and Probation Service accidentally sent correspondence from an inmate that was addressed to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen to a prosecutor for review. The inmate was being held on remand and was subject to restrictions. The prosecutor reviewed the correspondence and decided that it should not be forwarded. In addition to letter addressed to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen, the correspondence contained a letter to a private person.

Any limitations placed on the right to send letters or other documents of a person who has been deprived of his or her liberty may not impede that individual’s ability to correspond with the Ombudsmen. Such correspondence should always be forwarded without review. This is expressly stated in the Act with Instruction for the Parliamentary Ombudsmen. Whether or not the person deprived of their liberty is subject to restrictions is irrelevant.

The handling of the current correspondence was contrary to the express provisions in the Parliamentary Ombudsmen Instruction. The Prison and Probation Service and the prosecutor are criticised for improper handling. The fact that the correspondence also turned out to contain a letter to a private person is of no relevance to the question whether or not the correspondence could be reviewed.

Date of decision: 2023-12-13