Memorandum by the Prison Service (SP 47)
This Memorandum considers how the Prison Service,
in the light of Choosing Health and impending legislation, can
best contribute to the Government's commitment to creating a smoke
free environment in workplaces and public places.
the commitments (outlined initially
in the Choosing Health White Paper and General Election manifesto)
to introduce legislation to ensure that enclosed public places
and workplaces are smoke-free. This in the context of the overall
government strategy to tackle death and disease caused by tobacco
smoke, and to be in place by end of 2007.
That consultation between DH and
the Prison Service is mentioned in Choosing Health, along with
a recognition that some establishments such as prisons require
special provisions. (Indeed some initial contact has been made,
and further consultation will take place soon, probably before
the end of the year.)
Prisons have developed their own
"no smoking" policies covering staff and prisoners in
line with current health and safety advice, and taking into account
the type of establishment it is, its population and the special
needs of that population. Up to this point the overall national
steer from HMPS/DH has been to encourage local initiatives to
Currently 80% of prisoners smoke,
and many staff also smoke.
Wetherby and Ashfield prisons for
Juveniles have successfully gone totally smoke free this year.
Wherever possible prisoners should
not be required to share accommodation with a smoker if they so
However with the current situation
of overcrowding there are inevitable pressures which currently
can lead to smokers and non-smokers sharing accommodation.
Prisoners should only smoke in their
cells or where appropriate outside of buildings, and not in an
other "public areas", for example on landings or in
the visits area or in a class room.
Prison Rules set out the provisions
for smoking by prisoners in prisons:
Prison Rule 25(2) says that no prisoner
shall be allowed to smoke or have any tobacco except as a privilege
(for example, smoking can be forfeited as a disciplinary punishment
for up to 42 days.)
YOI Rule 21(2) is similar. Sentenced
young offenders in YOIs are not to have any tobacco, except in
accordance with directions of the Secretary of State. These directions
at present allow YOI governors in consultation with their Area
Managers to specify at what times and places smoking may be allowed,
except in establishments or parts of establishments for juveniles.
In juvenile establishments and juvenile
units, neither smoking nor possession of tobacco is allowed.
Health Promotion: Following
a successful smoking cessation programme pilot using Nicoten Replacement
Therapy in 2001-02, the Department of Health have invested £1.5
million, over three years, so that the Prison Service could contribute
towards the Government's target of 800,000 quitters. Results suggest
that quit ratesup to 80% of prisoners smokeare as
good or better than those in the community. Delivery of smoking
cessation services involves the local PCT Smoking Cessation Services,
working in partnership with prison staff. The "Acquitted"
smoking cessation programme is being evaluated further in the
North West where all prisons and their PCTs have engaged together
to deliver NRT with appropriate support to prisoners (report will
be available in December.)
Fire Safety: The issue of
supervising the smoking of prisoners who have mental health problems
and whose smoking may present a particular fire risk is a matter
under consideration by Prison Health.
Local arrangements require staff
to be protected from the effects of passive smoking. Staff should
not smoke except in designated areas eg outside of buildings or
in a smoking room.
Local smoking policies for staff
may range from a complete ban on smoking in the establishment
to the provision of a smoking area or a smoking room. Smoking
is not permitted in any office accommodation, including single
occupancy offices. In Headquarters a smoking room is provided
for staff who wish to smoke.
From a staff perspective most prisons
probably already do enough to comply with legislation banning
smoking. However staff are still exposed to some of the effects
of passive smoke from prisoners who smoke in their cells which
staff have, from time to time, to enter to carry out their security
duties (this may be considered analogous to someone who works
in a bar where smoking is allowed).
Prisons, on the basis that a prison
is akin to a residential home, and a cell is "home"
to inmates, will be exempt to a certain extent, but only where
prisoners are concerned.
Legislation will not exempt prison
staff, for whom prison is a place of work. Similar workplace considerations
would apply in prisons as elsewhere. The extent to which this
could be inspected under any powers provided for in the Bill is
one for crown immunity/ consideration.
Up to 90% of prisoners may have some
form of mental health problem. Up to 60% are addicted to drugs.
Many suffer both and may also be nicotine addicted (some 80% of
prisoners smoke). To insist that all prisoners on arrival into
prison have their cigarettes withdrawn, may increase stress eg.
it might well add to the possibility of their self harming or
even killing themselves. Prison staff would therefore want to
allow prisoners to be able to continue to smoke in such circumstances,
providing it did not cause harm to other prisoners or staff harm,
and this should continue at least until the prisoner has been
stabilised, and may be offered support with this addiction.
As a direct result of their imprisonment,
they are denied access to many of the activities those not in
prison would describe as normal and, to remove tobacco could emphasise
those deprivations even more and might increase friction within
establishments and create problems for control and order.
As some countries have introduced
a total ban successfully, there is scope for more work to see
if there are lessons for England.
A WAY FORWARD
The Prison Service will continue
to consult with colleagues in DH about exemptions and the contribution
prisons can make to creating smoke-free environments.
A review should take place in the
next three months which considers and makes recommendations on
how the Prison Service should proceed concerning the creation
of "smoke-free environments within prisons".
Without prejudice to such a review,
the following are likely options for discussion:
(a) As a workplace all prisons to become
"smoke-free work places." This will mean no smoking
anywhere within the prison buildings.
(b) Adult prisoners who smoke to do so in
their own cell or while exercising in the open air.
(c) Smokers and non-smokers must not be forced
to share a cell where smoking takes place.
(d) All Juvenile establishments might become
totally smoke-free as per the Ashfield and Wetherby models.
After the review and recommendations
have been agreed, an implementation plan should be put into place
to take agreed action forward locally, as part of the health development
plans of the NHS/prison partnerships. "Guidance for smoke-free
hospital trusts" (Health Development 2005) could provide
a useful role model for the Prison Service in this respect.