Prisoners Payouts set to rise to £70,000,000

#1
HERE
The Scotsman said:
Prisoners' pay-outs set to rise to £70m
MICHAEL HOWIE (mhowie@scotsman.com) Last updated: 25-Oct-07 01:09 BST

TAXPAYERS face a tenfold increase in pay-outs to prisoners for slopping out, after a landmark legal ruling opened the door to thousands more claims totalling more than £70 million.

As a result of the House of Lords' decision, the one-year time limit imposed by ministers on inmates' claims for compensation over human rights breaches cannot apply. This means the total bill for settling slopping out claims will soar.

Last night, the ruling brought fresh criticism of the former Scottish Executive for ignoring warnings that slopping out was a breach of human rights and would require millions of pounds in compensation to be paid from the public purse.

Ministers previously insisted they would settle compensation claims only from prisoners who raised legal actions against the state within one year of their rights being breached.

So far, pay-outs of about £400,000 have been made to 200 prisoners who had to slop out in a shared cell. A further 1,500 cases were put on hold pending yesterday's ruling, and, with hundreds of new cases emerging every month, a senior prison source said the ruling would raise the number of eligible claims tenfold.

The source said: "This ruling is bad news. We were looking at paying out to hundreds of people, now it looks like thousands."

One legal firm said 500 cases on its books would now be eligible for compensation.

Tony Kelly, from Taylor & Kelly, said: "Thousands more people will be able to claim compensation from the government for slopping out. We are handling just over 600 cases and only about 100 have been settled. We are getting more cases all the time - there were 30 last week alone."

The ruling was issued following several years of wrangling between Scottish ministers and lawyers acting for four prisoners who claimed their human rights had been denied during months in solitary confinement.

The most significant point was whether a one-year "time bar" on claims should apply. While the time bar exists in the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), the incorporation of the legislation into Scots law in 1999 removed such restrictions. The decision by the House of Lords means ministers were wrong to agree to pay out only in cases raised by prisoners within one year of their human rights being breached.

Mr Kelly said: "On the back of this decision, people are going to be critical of the fact these cases have been taken forward by prisoners. I have found it galling, as the public has, that prisoners have been making these claims.

"But the really hard questions should be asked of politicians who made choices years ago to divert money away from [the] prison estate on the chance nobody would complain about conditions. Those choices are coming home to roost."

Bill Aitken, the Scottish Tories' justice spokesman, said: "Once again, the Scottish taxpayer is going to be hit with a substantial bill because the last Executive did not use the money allocated to refurbish prisons to do away with slopping out.

"This, plus the continued negative impact of the ECHR on Scots law, is leaving us wide open to the most spurious of claims. It is time this entire issue is reviewed."

Had the time bar been allowed, no further claims would be granted, as shared-cell slopping out - which was held by a judge in 2004 to breach human rights - was ended two years ago. But claims will now be allowed from prisoners dating back to 1999, when slopping out was a feature in several Scottish prisons.

A spokesman for the Scottish Prison Service said: "We are considering the wider implications of this judgment.

"We have already made provision within the SPS accounts for claims under ECHR legislation. The Scottish Government has made considerable financial commitments to providing a prison estate fit for purpose for the 21st century. This will eliminate the conditions which have given rise to many of these claims."

IGNORED WARNING COULD PROVE COSTLY
IN JANUARY 2001 ministers were warned that a failure to tackle slopping-out in Scotland's jails would lead to multi-million-pound claims, but many dismissed the prospect of prisoners winning cash from the then Scottish Executive over the issue.

However, in August 2002, 60 prisoners at Barlinnie, the country's biggest jail, launched legal action against the government, claiming slopping-out contravened their human rights.

Two years later, a landmark legal judgment ruled slopping-out breached a prisoner's human rights, paving the way for a potential damages bill of tens of millions.

Robert Napier, a prison inmate, won £2,450 in damages after taking the Executive to court. His counsel told the court his cell was "grossly inadequate" and compared conditions to those at Pentonville Prison, London, in 1841.

But ministers insisted on appealing the decision, despite warnings over human rights' legislation.

Related topic

Scottish prisons
http://news.scotsman.com/topics.cfm?tid=498
 
#2
An elegant solution would be for all criminals to have punitive damages awarded against them on conviction as an SOP. If they then later get awarded compensation, this would automatically be diverted into the bank accounts of their unfortunate victims.

Simple and fair.
 
#3
Or alternatively the gubmint could grow a pair, tell the cons to feckin' do one and make prisons like that one in Yankee land a la Sheriff Joe, all tents, hard labour and pink coveralls.

This sort of leftie human rights shite really pisses me off, fcuktards! :x

Edited for shite typing
 
#4
Cad,

Like your approach. Alternatively charge them the full cost of their stay at Her Majesty's Pleasure. Then if, in future, they are owed money by HMG then it can come out of what they owe. Additionally, if they win the lottery in future life we can get that back from them as well.
 
#5
Hear hear!!
 
#6
wehappyfew -unfortunately you seem to have forgotten that in reality under Neue Arbeit (often backed by the Limp Debs), the only one's who have to pay for the guest accommodation in HMPs are those that have been found, on appeal, to have been innocent and whose charges have been quashed.

However I tend to favour your, and Cad's solution.
 
#8
The_Cad said:
An elegant solution would be for all criminals to have punitive damages awarded against them on conviction as an SOP. If they then later get awarded compensation, this would automatically be diverted into the bank accounts of their unfortunate victims.

Simple and fair.
Or, where the crime is against a community or communual property, it goes to a fund, specially set up if need be, for that group to benefit from. Should they wish to use it for, ooh I don't know, a set of stocks (purely for historical reasons, of course) so be it. We could apply the rule to any future income from any source - use the proceeds of drug-dealing to fund addiction treatment, and so on.

Personally, I'd like to see lower grade criminals placed in the situation where the law does not protect them from the type of crime they committed for the duration of a non-custodial sentance. A burglar will soon get the message if everything he owns can be taken as 'salvage' while he does a 2-stretch. If he's committed violence in the act, you can walk into his house, hoof him in the kisser and take your pick of what you find - the law will say, "Tough sh*t, sonny." Habitual crims get it for life, effectively returning to the old concept of 'outlaw' and a balance between rights and responsibilities under the law.
 
#9
Slopping out was a disgusting practice - but so is robbing peoples homes, stabbing people outside pubs, selling heroin, pimping out teenagers or any of the other multitude of wicked and stupid acts that bring people to prison.

It should be accepted that if you commit crime you lose certain rights.

I don't believe that prisons should be hellholes. I think that they should be austere disciplined places with a strong emphasis on work, education and correct personal conduct. Its not unreasonable that a prison cell has an ensuite shower and toilet. Hygene and pride in personal appearance are to be encouraged and marching cons to communal showers and supervising them is a waste of time and manpower.

The fact that these scrotes did have to slop out is unfortunate. The penal system is in decay like most other institutions in Britain.
It should not give them the right to claim any compensation. They were in prison because they damaged society and hurt ordinary people. The same principals should apply to civil damages that apply to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme - except in unusual cases, criminals themselves are excluded from receiving money. They are the authors of their own misfortunes and have forfeited full equality beneath the law.

Politicians need to act on this, if their hands are tied by unwanted European laws they need to act on that too.
 
#10
'Slopping Out' may be 'disgusting', but, nevertheless, well deserved.

Prison should never be more attractive than 'home': they should be so AWFUL that nobody would even think about it as an alternative.
 
#11
John_Charity_Spring said:
Slopping out was a disgusting practice - but so is robbing peoples homes, stabbing people outside pubs, selling heroin, pimping out teenagers or any of the other multitude of wicked and stupid acts that bring people to prison.

It should be accepted that if you commit crime you lose certain rights.

I don't believe that prisons should be hellholes. I think that they should be austere disciplined places with a strong emphasis on work, education and correct personal conduct. Its not unreasonable that a prison cell has an ensuite shower and toilet. Hygene and pride in personal appearance are to be encouraged and marching cons to communal showers and supervising them is a waste of time and manpower.

The fact that these scrotes did have to slop out is unfortunate. The penal system is in decay like most other institutions in Britain.
It should not give them the right to claim any compensation. They were in prison because they damaged society and hurt ordinary people. The same principals should apply to civil damages that apply to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme - except in unusual cases, criminals themselves are excluded from receiving money. They are the authors of their own misfortunes and have forfeited full equality beneath the law.

Politicians need to act on this, if their hands are tied by unwanted European laws they need to act on that too.
Probably get someones back up, but convicted criminals should lose all their rights. They never considered the rights of their victims did they?
 
#12
The_Cad said:
An elegant solution would be for all criminals to have punitive damages awarded against them on conviction as an SOP. If they then later get awarded compensation, this would automatically be diverted into the bank accounts of their unfortunate victims.

Simple and fair.
Which is why lawyers and politicians will never allow it, old boy! :evil:
 
#13
Another "right" they could lose would be the possession of their skin in the back/arrse area......
After all, Mr rattan cane has to eat as well.
 

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