The Parliamentary Ombudsman’s National Preventive Mechanism against Torture and Ill-treatment (NPM) regularly visits places where individuals are deprived of their liberty, such as prisons, police custody facilities, psychiatric institutions and child welfare institutions. Such visits can be made with or without prior notice.
During an announced visit to Ringerike prison from 6 to 9 January 2015, the NPM found the prison’s documentation of coercive measures and exclusion from company to be satisfactory. The prisoners also expressed that they largely feel safe in the communal setting and are satisfied with the prison officers.
Following three suicides at the prison since 2012, most recently in October 2014, the NPM has recommended that communications be improved in the Correctional Services, at Ringerike prison, and between the police and the Correctional Services. The prison also needs to strengthen its procedures for preventing suicide, especially in connection with admission. The prison has started work on redressing these issues.
The NPM reviewed all communication between the police and Ringerike prison relating to the most recent suicide in October 2014. The prisoner who took his life had been transferred from the Tønsberg police custody facility to Ringerike prison. Although the police officers at the police custody facility had put in place additional measures because they suspected the detainee to be at risk of suicide, this information was not passed on to Ringerike prison, and the prisoner committed suicide on the night of his arrival at the prison.
The inmates of Ringerike prison said that they have no confidence in the prison’s health department, and that they have to wait a long time for an appointment with health personnel. Nor is professional confidentiality maintained fully in the procedures for contact with the prison’s health department. For example, the appointment request form contains a section that requires a prison officer’s signature. The NPM has recommended that this field be removed.