The Prison and Probation Service’s procedures for urine testing

The Prison and Probation Service’s procedures for taking urine samples and the application of those procedures in practice means that an inmate must almost invariably undergo such urine tests completely naked. According to the authority, the main reason for this is to reduce the risk of manipulation.

In the decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsman states that rules which concern intrusive coercive measures of intervention, such as urine tests, must not be formulated too generally and intrusively or without taking into account the so-called principle of consideration. She furthermore highlights comments made by the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) about the current system.

According to the Parliamentary Ombudsman, the current rules on and routine application of urine testing may be called into question, and she emphasises that individual assessments should be made as to whether it is necessary for an inmate to provide a urine sample naked. In conclusion, the Parliamentary Ombudsman is critical of how the Prison and Probation Service designed the procedures and shares the CPT’s view that the authority should review them.

Date of decision: 2023-12-08