Introducing The Investigator: the PPO’s Quarterly Newsletter.

Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, newsletter, The Investigator












Welcome to the first issue of The Investigator.

In the past seven years, our Learning Lessons team has published more than thirty bulletins and thematic reviews which look at the PPO’s casework as a whole to identify both good practice and, crucially, where the system is failing in its duty of care to prisoners, immigration detainees, young people in detention and those under community supervision.

You can always find our learning lessons library on the PPO website. However, we want to be able to talk to you directly about the things that matter to all of us in real time. You deserve the right to reply, and I encourage you to ask me questions – I will respond to you directly and in the “Ask the Ombudsman” section below.

Each issue will feature at least one article, supported by case studies and some straightforward numbers, dealing with difficult subjects in a no-nonsense and practical fashion too often absent from the public debate.  In 2018, we saw far too many deaths in custody in which drugs played a significant part, and, along with prisoners’ complaints relating to Use of Force by staff, they are my chosen focus for this opening edition.

I will also make an effort to talk about some of the good work that my investigators and I often see across the estate. My office’s mission, and our promise to you, is to conduct independent and impartial investigations to help make custody and community supervision safer and fairer.

Thank you for reading.

Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, Sue McAllister






Sue McAllister CB, Prisons and Probation Ombudsman

Prisons and Probation Ombudsman Newsletter, features



The worrying increase of drug-related deaths in custody.

Prisons must improve their handling and retention of video footage relating to Use of Force complaints.

Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, newsletter, scorecard



Quarterly statistics covering the PPO’s investigations into both complaints and fatal incidents in custody from October to December 2018.

Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, newsletter, case studies

We see too many deaths where illicit drug use had played a role, either directly in the case of accidental or deliberate overdoses, or indirectly in the case of suicides precipitated by drug-related mood changes or in response to drug-related debts and bullying.

The cases below illustrate some of these problems:

Drug-related deaths

Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, newsletter, Ask the Ombudsman

The PPO receives a steady stream of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests from our stakeholders and the general public. These requests help us to channel the data gathered from our investigations towards a better understanding of the challenges faced by the services within our remit.
As a part of each issue, we will pass that knowledge on to you. If you would like to ask a question, or even submit your own FOI request, please email the Ombudsman at

In the last five years, how many deaths in prison have been related to or caused by Legal Highs or New Psychoactive Substances?

Prisons and Probation, newsletter subscription