Property pitfalls and how to avoid them

From the Complaints Investigator’s Desk

Complaints about missing or lost property consistently make up around a third of complaints the PPO investigates and we uphold almost half of them.  In 2018/19, we upheld 46% of property complaints, compared to 32% for all other complaints.

What are the some of the most common property complaints?
Many of those upheld complaints concern property going missing when a prisoner is transferred to another prison or relocates to the prison’s Segregation Unit/Care and Separation Unit (CSU), and then possibly to another prison after that.

We often recommend prisons pay compensation for lost property, because our investigations find common and recurring failings based on prisons’ failure to comply with the mandatory requirements of national policy governing the handling of prisoners’ property.

What are the most common failings relating to upheld property complaints?
The most common avoidable failings that lead to upheld complaints are:

  • lack of records such as missing property cards; and
  • lack of a cell clearance certificate (where there should be one).

What can prisons do to make sure they are following best practice?
Our property complaints investigators have put together a checklist to help prison staff avoid these and other common failings. It’s not exhaustive, but we hope it will help to reduce the number of complaints against them and ensure their actions are clear, transparent and defensible at all times.

Click on the image to view and download the full check list.

Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, property complaints, check list