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How should the transport of prisoners be organised?

Frequent complaints have been filed concerning the transport of prisoners between Vantaa prison and Helsinki District Court. The prisoners are restrained during transport as a rule. Under legislation, however, prisoners may only be restrained in individual cases as a result of consideration, not as a routine measure.

This practice has been found illegal in many of the Parliamentary Ombudsman's decisions. Instead of restraints, the Parliamentary Ombudsman has proposed investments in transport vehicles with compartments.

New vehicles on the way

Both the Department of Criminal Policy at the Ministry of Justice and the Criminal Sanctions Agency have now endorsed the plan to procure transport vehicles with compartments. Deputy-Ombudsman Jussi Pajuoja requested that the Criminal Sanctions Agency report on any further measures by 31 March 2017.

A legislative amendment concerning the transport of prisoners is being drafted

The Ministry of Justice is currently drafting a reform that concerns the safe transport of prisoners. The policy previously formulated by the parliamentary Constitutional Law Committee is that restraints may only be used in the most challenging situations as a last resort.

In his statement on the proposed reform, Parliamentary Ombudsman noted that the safety of transport should primarily be ensured by procuring appropriate vehicles. This would be in keeping with the Constitution as well as international recommendations and comments issued by monitoring bodies.

Deputy-Ombudsman Jussi Pajuoja's decision of 12 September 2016, record no 473/4/16, can be accessed at http://www.oikeusasiamies.fi/.

Further information is available from Principal Legal Adviser Pasi Pölönen, tel. +358 (0)9 432 3345.