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How we relate to OPCAT and the NPM

Photograph of some barbed wire at the top of a prison fence.

Our work forms part of the UK’s obligations under the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Torture (OPCAT).

The UK National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) was designated in 2009 in response to the OPCAT international human rights treaty, which is designed to strengthen protection for people deprived of their liberty. OPCAT recognises that such people are particularly vulnerable and aims to prevent their ill-treatment through establishing a system of visits or inspections to all places of detention.

We have been a member of the UK NPM since it was designated. All 21 member bodies of the UK NPM visit or inspect places of detention such as prisons, police custody, immigration removal centres, children’s secure accommodation and mental health institutions.

In addition to being a member, HMI Prisons coordinates the activities of the NPM. This means that its Secretariat (comprising three members of staff) is able to access resources and support from us.

The NPM publishes annual reports, correspondence with governments and international human rights bodies and undertakes thematic projects on preventing ill-treatment.

For more information, visit the NPM website.