United Kingdom

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

There were no reports the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings.

On March 4, according to British authorities, agents of Russian military intelligence spread the nerve agent Novichok on the front door of the home of former Russian military intelligence offer Sergei Skripal in Salisbury in an apparent attempt to kill him. Skripal and his daughter Yulia were hospitalized in serious condition but both ultimately survived. On June 30, Salisbury residents Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley were hospitalized after accidentally coming in contact with a bottle of Novichok that the assassins had discarded. Sturgess died on July 8.

There were no reports of disappearances by or on behalf of government authorities.

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

The law prohibits such practices, and there were no reports that government officials employed them.

Prison and detention center conditions generally met international standards but had serious problems.

Physical Conditions: The Annual Report for 2017-18 by the chief inspector of prisons for England and Wales released on July 11 documented “some of the most disturbing prison conditions we have ever seen,” and “conditions which have no place in an advanced nation in the 21st century.” Among 39 men’s prisons, safety outcomes had declined in 14 and improved in nine.

The Urgent Notification protocol allows Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons to alert directly the lord chancellor and secretary of state for justice if he or she has an urgent and significant concern about the performance of a prison. It was used for the first time in January with respect to Nottingham Prison. An inspection report at Liverpool Prison was considered so troubling that the parliamentary Justice Select Committee decided to carry out an investigation.

Regarding young individuals, the Annual Report notes, “For young adults aged 18-21 in young offenders’ institutions, the picture was particularly dire with 385 reporting they were unlocked for less than 2 hours each day.”

There were 291 deaths in male prisons in England and Wales in 2017-18, 33 fewer than in the previous year. These included 68 self-inflicted deaths; 165 deaths from natural causes; five apparent homicides; and 53 other deaths, 52 of which had not been classified.

Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentencing introduced in 2005 allows keeping serious offenders in prison indefinitely as long as the Parole Board believes they pose a threat to society. IPP was abolished in 2012 following a European Court of Human Rights ruling, but the abolition was not retroactive.

There are 13 publicly managed and two privately managed prisons in Scotland. The number of deaths in custody remained steady at 28 in 2017. In 2017-18 there were 94 serious prisoner-on-prisoner assaults, an increase from 74 the previous year, but minor assaults saw a slight reduction. The Scottish Prison Service has an ongoing building and refurbishment program to improve conditions. The women’s prison at Cornton Vale was a particular concern; overcrowding was a serious issue.

The Northern Ireland Prison Service Report for 2017-18 found that further measures were required to help prisoners with mental health conditions. Women do not have a separate facility from juveniles. According to the report, the ombudsperson began investigations into three deaths. Two of the deaths appeared to be suicides, with the other due to natural causes.

Independent Monitoring: The government permitted monitoring by independent nongovernmental observers. Every prison, immigration removal center, and some short-term holding facilities at airports have an independent monitoring board. Each board’s members are independent, and their role is to monitor day-to-day activity in the facility and to ensure proper standards of care and decency. Members have unrestricted access to the facility at any time and can talk to any prisoner or detainee they wish, out of sight and hearing of staff, if necessary.

In Northern Ireland, the position of prisoner ombudsman has been vacant since August 2017 due to a lack of a functioning government.

The law prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention and provides for the right of any person to challenge the lawfulness of his or her arrest or detention in court, and the government routinely observed these requirements.

In Scotland guidelines that came into force in May 2017 allow police to stop and search persons only when police have “reasonable grounds.”

Except in Scotland and Northern Ireland, the national police maintained internal security and reported to the Home Office. The army, under the authority of the Ministry of Defense, is responsible for external security and supports police in extreme cases. The National Crime Agency (NCA) investigates many serious crimes in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, and it has a mandate to deal with organized, economic, and cybercrimes as well as border policing and child protection. The NCA director general has independent operational direction and control over the NCA’s activities and is accountable to the home secretary.

By law authorities must refer to the Independent Police Complaints Commission all deaths and serious injuries during or following police contact, including road traffic fatalities involving police, fatal police shootings, deaths in or following police custody, apparent suicides in or following police custody, and other deaths to which the action or inaction of police may have contributed.

In 2017, 23 persons died in or following police custody or contact, according to the Independent Office for Police Conduct. The office also said that 17 individuals were subjected to the use of force or restraint “by the police or others” before they died, but the use of force or restraint “did not necessarily contribute to the deaths.”

Scotland’s judicial, legal, and law enforcement system is fully separate from that of the rest of the UK. Police Scotland reports to the Scottish justice minister and the state prosecutor. Police Scotland reports cross-border crime and threat information to the national UK police and responds to UK police needs in Scotland upon request.

Northern Ireland also maintains a separate police force, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). The PSNI reports to the Northern Ireland Policing Board, a nondepartmental public body composed of members of the Northern Ireland Assembly and independent members of the community. The chair of the Independent Police Monitoring Board said in March 2018 that he is concerned about the lack of oversight for the PSNI in the continued absence of a functioning government in Northern Ireland.

The Bermuda Police Service (BPS) is responsible for internal security on the island. The BPS reports to the governor appointed by the UK but is funded by the elected government of the island.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces, and the government has effective mechanisms to investigate and punish abuse. There were no reports of impunity involving the security forces during the year.

Nationally there is a functioning bail system, but defendants awaiting trial judged to be flight risks, likely to commit another offense, suspected terrorists, or in certain other limited circumstances may be denied bail.

If questioned at a police station, all suspects have the right to legal representation, including counsel provided by the government if they are indigent. Police may not question suspects who request legal advice until a lawyer is present. Detainees may make telephone calls. The maximum length of pretrial detention is 182 days. The court may extend pretrial detention in exceptional cases. Suspects were not held incommunicado or under house arrest. Authorities routinely respected these rights.

In Gibraltar the Committee for the Prevention of Torture found that, while the right of access to a lawyer is adequately enshrined in law, a lawyer was only accessible at the detainee’s own expense.

In Scotland police may detain a subject for no more than 24 hours. After an initial detention period of 12 hours, a police custody officer may authorize further detention for an additional 12 hours without authorization from the court, if the officer believes it necessary. Only a judge can issue a warrant for arrest if he or she believes there is enough evidence against a suspect. A suspect must be informed immediately of allegations against him or her and be advised promptly of the charges if there is sufficient evidence to proceed. Police may not detain a person more than once for the same offense. Depending on the nature of the crime, a suspect should be released from custody if he or she is deemed not to present a risk. There is a functioning bail system.

In Bermuda a court must issue a warrant for arrest. The law permits arrests without warrant only in certain conditions. When a police officer has reasonable grounds for suspecting that any offense, that is not an arrest-able offense, has been or is being committed or attempted, they may arrest the relevant person if it appears that service of a summons is impracticable. No arrests or detentions can be made arbitrarily or secretly, and the detainee must be told the reason for his or her arrest immediately. Individuals may be detained initially for six hours, and for two further periods of up to nine hours each subject to review and justification.

There is a functioning system of bail in Bermuda. A detainee has an immediate right of access to a lawyer, either through a personal meeting or by telephone. Free legal advice is provided for detainees. Police must inform the arrestee of his or her rights to communication with a friend, family member, or other person identified by the detainee. The police superintendent may authorize incommunicado detention for serious crimes such as terrorism. House arrest and wearing an electronic monitoring device may be a condition of bail.

Formal complaints about arrests in Bermuda can be made to an independent criminal compensation board, the police complaints authority, the Human Rights Commission, or a court.

The law provides for an independent judiciary, and the government respected judicial independence and impartiality.

The law provides for the right to a fair and public trial, and an independent judiciary routinely enforced this right. Defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence, and the right to be informed promptly and in detail of the charges, with free interpretation as necessary from the moment charged through all appeals. Criminal proceedings must be held without undue delay and be open to the public except for cases in juvenile court or those involving public decency or security. Defendants have the right to be present at their trial. Under the Official Secrets Act, the judge may order the court closed, but sentencing must be public.

Defendants have the right to communicate with an attorney of their choice or to have one provided at public expense if unable to pay. Defendants and their lawyers have adequate time and facilities to prepare a defense and free assistance of an interpreter if necessary. Defendants have the right to confront witnesses against them, present witnesses and evidence, and not to be compelled to testify or confess guilt. Defendants have the right to appeal adverse verdicts.

In Bermuda the law requires a defendant to declare to the prosecutor and the court within 28 days of his arraignment whether he intends to give evidence at his trial. Failure to do so permits the court to direct the jury to draw inferences from the defendant’s refusal to testify.

There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.

Nationally, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and groups of individuals may seek civil remedies for human rights violations and have the right to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights decisions involving alleged violations by the government of the European Convention on Human Rights.

In Bermuda the Human Rights Tribunal adjudicates complaints.

The UK complies with the goals of the 2009 Terezin Declaration and 2010 Guidelines and Best Practices. The government has laws and mechanisms in place, and NGOs and advocacy groups reported that the government made significant progress on resolution of Holocaust-era claims, including for foreign citizens.

The law prohibits such actions, and there were no reports that the government failed to respect these prohibitions.

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