National Preventive Mechanism




The Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) is an international human rights treaty designed to strengthen protection for people deprived of their liberty. It recognises that such people are particularly vulnerable and aims to prevent their ill-treatment through establishing a system of visits or inspections to all places of detention.

OPCAT requires that States designate a ‘National Preventive Mechanism’ (NPM) to carry out visits to places of detention, to monitor the treatment of and conditions for detainees and to make recommendations regarding the prevention of ill-treatment. 
The UK ratified OPCAT in December 2003 and designated its NPM in March 2009.
The UK NPM focuses efforts on establishing an effective governance structure and raising awareness among its members and key stakeholders, ensuring that all places of detention within the UK are subject to independent monitoring, a service which has expanded to cover court cells, escorts and deportations, medium secure units for children and young people, and ‘non-designated’ police cells.
The UK NPM also addresses specific issues faced by children and young people in detention and a thematic sub-group meets regularly to share information and join up efforts towards preventing ill-treatment of children and young people in detention.
The UK NPM is co-ordinated by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons in England and Wales (HMIP)
Further information on the work of the UK NPM please visit the NPM website:

What is CJI’s involvement?

The UK’s NPM is currently made up of 21 visiting or inspecting bodies who visit places of detention such as prisons, police custody, immigration detention centres, children’s secure accommodation and mental health institutions.
In Northern Ireland, CJI is one of the four designated independent bodies involved in carrying out this work.  Other NPMs operating in Northern Ireland are the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA); the Northern Ireland Policing Board Independent Custody Visiting Scheme (NIPBICVS) and the Independent Monitoring Boards for Northern Ireland (IMBs).
Inspection work undertaken in relation to the prisons in Northern Ireland, the transportation of prisoners and other detained individuals; police custody facilities and juvenile justice centres specifically relates to CJI's NPM function.
This work is undertaken by permanent CJI staff or individuals/ organisations working in partnership with the Inspectorate.  CJI does not use interns or secondees to the organisation to conduct this work.

In August 2015, CJI signed a protocol with the Independent Monitoring Boards and the Prisoner Ombudsman for Northern Ireland to clearly establish how the organisations would work together. 
The protocol is designed to protect any prisoner/detainee from sanctions or other prejudice arising from their, or someone acting on their behalf’s, communication with either party and to provide reassurance that they can freely communicate with CJI, the IMBs and the Prisoner Ombudsman without fear of sanctions or other prejudice.
To view a copy of the joint protocol please follow the link. 
For further information about CJI’s NPM role, contact Inspector Rachel Lindsay via email on [email protected] or HMIP’s NPM Co-ordinator, Louise Finer via email on  [email protected]. You can also follow and learn more about the work of the UK NPM on Twitter @UKNPM #UKNPM #OPCAT.

What other agencies are involved?

Care Inspectorate

Care Quality Commission

Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales

Children’s Commissioner for England

Healthcare Inspectorate Wales

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland

Independent Custody Visiting Association

Independent Custody Visitors Scotland

Independent Monitoring Board

Independent Monitoring Board Northern Ireland

Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation

Lay Observers

Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland

Northern Ireland Policing Board Independent Custody Visiting Scheme


Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority

Scottish Human Rights Commission