Execution of the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights
Paul and Audrey Edwards against United Kingdom
(Application No. 46477/99, judgment of 14/03/02, final on 14/06/02)
The Committee of Ministers, under the terms of Article 46, paragraph 2, of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which provides that the Committee supervises the execution of final judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (hereinafter “the Convention” and “the Court”);
Having regard to the judgment in this case, transmitted by the Court to the Committee once it had become final;
Recalling that the violations of the Convention found by the Court in this case concern the state's failure in its obligation to protect life (Article 2); lack of an effective investigation and the impossibility of obtaining enforceable award of compensation (Articles 2 and 13) (see details in Appendix));
Having invited the government of the respondent state to inform the Committee of the measures taken to comply with United Kingdom's obligation under Article 46, paragraph 1, of the Convention to abide by the judgment;
Having examined the information provided by the government in accordance with the Committee's Rules for the application of Article 46, paragraph 2, of the Convention;
Having satisfied itself that, within the time-limit set, the respondent state paid the applicants the just satisfaction provided in the judgment (see details in Appendix),
Recalling that a finding of violations by the Court requires, over and above the payment of just satisfaction awarded by the Court in its judgments, the adoption by the respondent state, where appropriate:
- of individual measures to put an end to the violations and erase their consequences so as to achieve as far as possible restitutio in integrum; and
- of general measures, preventing similar violations;
DECLARES, having examined the measures taken by the respondent state (see Appendix), that it has exercised its functions under Article 46, paragraph 2, of the Convention in this case and
DECIDES to close the examination of this case.
Appendix to Resolution CM/ResDH(2009)145
Information about the measures to comply with the judgment in the case of
Paul and Audrey Edwards against United Kingdom
Introductory case summary
This case concerns a breach of the positive obligation imposed on the national authorities to protect the life of the applicants' son, who was killed during his detention on remand by another detainee considered dangerous and with whom he was sharing a cell. The failure of the agencies involved in the case (medical profession, police, prosecution and court) to pass on information about the second detainee to the prison authorities and the inadequate nature of the screening process on his arrival disclosed a breach of the state's positive obligation to protect the life of the applicants' son (violation of Article 2).
The case also concerns the ineffectiveness of the inquiry into the death of the applicants' son as it was not possible to oblige prison staff to give evidence and because the applicants were not sufficiently associated with the investigation procedure (violation of Article 2). Finally, the case concerns the lack of an effective remedy in this respect (violation of Article 13).
I. Payment of just satisfaction and individual measures
a) Details of just satisfaction
Costs and expenses
Paid on 14/09/2002
b) Individual measures
Following the European Court's judgment, the Prison Service conducted a second investigation, which according to the United Kingdom authorities was intended to address the two failings of the first inquiry, identified by European Court: the inability of the inquiry to compel witnesses and the lack of involvement of the applicants in the investigation procedure. The prison officers who had declined to attend the earlier inquiry willingly gave oral evidence in the second Prison Service inquiry. The interview transcripts were made available to the applicants who met and questioned one of the prison officers concerned (whom the European Court considered might potentially have significant evidence). Further, all Prison Service employees who were asked to be interviewed for the post-judgment investigation, agreed to such interviews.
Furthermore, the authorities of the United Kingdom underline the fact that the applicants' questions provided the framework for the second investigation. During the investigation they remained in contact with the Prison Service and were provided with reports on progress, including through meetings. During one of these meetings, the applicants met face-to-face and questioned the four prison officers who had had key roles. Moreover, the authorities stress that all documentation within the control of the Prison Service was made available to the applicants at the end of the post-judicial inquiry (see also general measures below).
II. General measures
1) Substantive violation of Article 2:
Since 2004, a national strategy has directed every public sector prison to have in place a local violence reduction strategy (VRS). From June 2007 this policy has also been applied to contracted prisons. The strategy requires each prison to undertake regular analysis of the problem areas, consider solutions and provide an action plan to improve personal safety and reduce violence for all those who live and work in the prison. (The most recent version of this strategy was published in 2007 and is available to the public on the Prison Service website (http://pso.hmprisonservice.gov.uk/PSO_2750_violance_reduction.doc)). There is currently a further ongoing review of the VRS, which includes the Cell Sharing Risk Assessment which was first introduced in 2002.
All prisons are required to apply this strategy, which must include guidance which makes clear to all prison staff the requirements of this strategy and their individual responsibilities in reducing violence. Moreover, a number of other measures were adopted including in particular the Prisoner Escort Record, a new Suicide/Self-Harm Warning Form, the setting up of a new reception screening process for prisoners, to ensure a better detection of immediate and serious health problems.
The Magistrates Courts have been instructed to ensure that they provide the prison escort contractor with information on antecedent history, previous convictions, a medical/psychiatric report and any other relevant documents. Practical measures have also been taken to optimise the transmission of such relevant information. Measures have also been taken in relation to detentions on remand to ensure that the relevant medical information on a prisoner's state of health can duly be taken into account.
These measures are continuously monitored through two important domestic inspection bodies, among others: Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Court Administration and Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons which, following their inspections, make detailed recommendations to the United Kingdom authorities.
Furthermore, the United Kingdom authorities draw attention to the answer it gave to the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) report following its 2003 visit. In this answer, the United Kingdom government stated that it aims “to ensure that prisoners are held in establishments that provide the degree of security they require; are suitable to their gender, age and legal status and which provide special facilities appropriate to prisoner needs” which have specialised structures capable of answering the prisoners' needs. The United Kingdom authorities insist on their willingness to continue their efforts to improve conditions of treatment of prisoners, through cooperation with the CPT and the domestic inspection instances.
2) Procedural violation of Article 2:
For the United Kingdom authorities, the Coroner's preliminary inquest is the main vehicle to meet the requirements of Article 2 in such cases. The obligations imposed on the Coroner to resume a suspended inquest have been reinforced by the judgment in R v HM Coroner for the Western District of Somerset and another ex parte Middleton (2004) 2 ALL ER. Furthermore it is unlawful for the Coroner to act in a way which is incompatible with a Convention right in light of Section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998. If a Coroner decides not to resume an inquest in circumstances similar to the present case, a request for review of this decision can be made to the Attorney General, under Section 13 of the Coroners Act 1988 asking that the High Court order the holding of an inquest. A party aggrieved by the Coroner's decision not to hold an inquest may apply for a judicial review of the Coroner's decision. Where an inquest has been adjourned in the light of related criminal proceedings, the Ministry of Justice will contact the Coroner at the close of the criminal proceedings asking him or her to consider whether the inquest should be resumed.
3) Violation of Article 13: This case presents similarities to Bubbins against the United Kingdom, which was closed by the Committee of Ministers (see Final Resolution CM/ResDH(2007)101). Section 7 of the Human Rights Act creates a cause of action, which can found a claim for relief, including damages, against a public authority that has acted unlawfully in breach of its Convention rights.
4) Publication: The judgment of the European Court was disseminated to all the authorities concerned and published in the European Human Rights Reports at (2002) 35 EHRR 487.
III. Conclusions of the respondent state
The government considers that the measures adopted have fully remedied the consequences for the applicant of the violation of the Convention found by the European Court in this case, that these measures will prevent similar violations and that the United Kingdom has thus complied with its obligations under Article 46, paragraph 1 of the Convention.
1 Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 3 December 2009 at the 1072nd meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies