Monitoring Weapons and Restraints in Places of Detention

On a day that UK Prisons Minister Rory Stewart announced that 3.4 million Canadian Dollars (around 2 million GBP) would be spent on arming prison officers in England and Wales with a synthetic incapacitant pepper spray, the arrival of a new publication on the issue of weapons and restraints in detention arrives not a day too soon.

In a brand new set of resources the UK-based Omega Research Foundation and University of Essex have secured a firm handle on the task of monitoring the use of weapons and restraints in places of detention, a challenge underpinned by the above news story and the related human rights concerns voiced by key actors in the country.

Anti-torture toolsThe two organizations have produced a very welcome Practical Guide titled Monitoring Weapons and Restraints in Places of Detention: A Practical Guide for Detention Monitors and a related one-page, foldable Pocket Book for this purpose. The Practical Guide is described “… as a detailed resource which collates standards around the use of firearms, less lethal weapons and restraints in places of detention, and provides checklists of questions to ask and key areas for monitors to observe.”

The lighter-weight Pocket Book (please see below) summarizes key points from the Practical Guide and is designed to be easy for monitors to print out and use in places of detention. The above resources are available in English, French and Spanish.

In addition to an in-depth examination of the use of lethal weapons, the publication analyses an array of less-than-lethal weapons. These include chemical irritants and restraints, electric-shock and kinetic impact weapons as well as other restraints. The international and regional legal framework regulating such weapons and restraints is also examined in detail.

In a guest blog contribution to the Association for the Prevention of Torture’s website the University of Essex’s Abigail Dymond (the co-author) offers a short presentation of these invaluable resources and discusses why weapons and restraints should be monitored.

Anti-torture toolsMore interesting information about the highly respected Omega Research Foundation can be gleaned from watching the short video animation below: