Public Security Police. NPM publishes report on detention conditions and procedures

The National Preventive Mechanism (NPM), which works within the Ombudsman’s Office, focused part of its activity in 2022 on the conditions and procedures of detention in Police Commands, Police Stations and other units of the Public Security Police, having elaborated a thematic report, which is now disclosed.

Regarding the material conditions, it was concluded that most of the detention spaces visited complied, in general terms, with the legal and regulatory requirements, namely regarding the interior layout of the cells, accommodation and food.

However, it was observed a transversal absence of video surveillance systems. In several of the monitored police stations, the privacy of the detainee during the creation of the detention file, as part of admissions processing, was not guaranteed. In several cells, it was also observed the inexistence of alarm equipment – a fundamental safeguard for the prevention of risk situations for detainees.

In what concerns the detention procedures, irregularities and inconsistencies were frequently detected in the documental registry, namely in the operation of the computer platform – the Strategic Information System (SIS).

It was found that it is possible to generate and print the eletronic detainee detention file without the field “Physical State” – where information regarding, for instance, eventual injuries of the detainee should be included – being properly filled in, despite being a mandatory field and being marked as such in the SIS.

On the other hand, the NPM observed several cases in which certain fields actually filled in the SIS were not included in the printed version of the eletronic detention file signed by the detainee, which, in practice, means that the detainee may sign a document without knowing its full content.

The NPM also found that among police officers there is no unequivocal and generalized awareness that they have a legal duty to report to the Public Prosecutor any evidence or complaint of ill-treatment, even if the latter may seem unfounded.

To read the full report click here [in Portuguese only].

The Ombudsman as NPM

The NPM was established in Portugal in 2013, following the ratification by the Portuguese State of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Degrading or Inhuman Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT). The OPCAT establishes a system of regular visits by independent bodies to places where persons deprived of their liberty are or may be found. The NPM is the national component of this system, which corresponds at the international level to the United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture. To learn more about the activities of the Ombudsman as NPM click here.

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