Ensuring positive staff-inmate relations will also depend greatly on having an adequate
number of staff present at any given time in detention areas and in facilities used by prisoners for
activities. CPT delegations often find that this is not the case. An overall low staff complement
and/or specific staff attendance systems which diminish the possibilities of direct contact with
prisoners, will certainly impede the development of positive relations; more generally, they will
generate an insecure environment for both staff and prisoners.
It should also be noted that, where staff complements are inadequate, significant amounts of
overtime can prove necessary in order to maintain a basic level of security and regime delivery in
the establishment. This state of affairs can easily result in high levels of stress in staff and their
premature burnout, a situation which is likely to exacerbate the tension inherent in any prison
The duty of care which is owed by custodial staff to those in their charge includes the
responsibility to protect them from other inmates who wish to cause them harm. In fact, violent
incidents among prisoners are a regular occurrence in all prison systems; they involve a wide range
of phenomena, from subtle forms of harassment to unconcealed intimidation and serious physical
Tackling the phenomenon of inter-prisoner violence requires that prison staff be placed in a
position, including in terms of staffing levels, to exercise their authority and their supervisory tasks
in an appropriate manner. Prison staff must be alert to signs of trouble and be both resolved and
properly trained to intervene when necessary. The existence of positive relations between staff and
prisoners, based on the notions of secure custody and care, is a decisive factor in this context; this
will depend in large measure on staff possessing appropriate interpersonal communication skills.
Further, management must be prepared fully to support staff in the exercise of their authority.
Specific security measures adapted to the particular characteristics of the situation encountered
(including effective search procedures) may well be required; however, such measures can never be
more than an adjunct to the above-mentioned basic imperatives. In addition, the prison system
needs to address the issue of the appropriate classification and distribution of prisoners.
Prisoners suspected or convicted of sexual offences are at a particularly high risk of being
assaulted by other prisoners. Preventing such acts will always pose a difficult challenge. The
solution that is often adopted is to separate such prisoners from the rest of the prison population.
However, the prisoners concerned may pay a heavy price for their – relative – security, in terms of
much more limited activities programmes than those available under the normal prison regime.
Another approach is to disperse prisoners suspected or convicted of sexual offences throughout the
prison concerned. If such an approach is to succeed, the necessary environment for the proper
integration of such prisoners into ordinary cell blocks must be guaranteed; in particular, the prison
staff must be sincerely committed to dealing firmly with any signs of hostility or persecution. A
third approach can consist of transferring prisoners to another establishment, accompanied by
measures aimed at concealing the nature of their offence. Each of these policies has its advantages
and disadvantages, and the CPT does not seek to promote a given approach as opposed to another.
Indeed, the decision on which policy to apply will mainly depend on the particular circumstances of