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 designed its NPM in March 2009. The UK’s NPM is currently made up of 20 visiting or inspecting bodies who visit places of detention such as prisons, police custody and immigration detention centres. The NPM is coordinated by HM Inspectorate of Prisons. HMICFRS inspects police custody facilities.

For more information and a full list of the members of the UK NPM please visit the NPM website.

Annual reports

You can read NPM annual reports on the NPM website.