Prisoner locked in cell contaminated with faeces
What was the case?
We investigated a complaint alleging that Lincoln, a prisoner, was deliberately locked in a cell contaminated with faeces overnight. It was alleged prison officers had done this to punish Lincoln for contaminating the cell.
We found Lincoln was put in the cell at about 7:30pm one night because officers believed he was responsible for contaminating it. A supervisor said they put Lincoln in the cell so he could take responsibility for cleaning it. Despite this, Lincoln did not receive equipment to clean the cell until about 1pm the next day.
Lincoln has both an intellectual disability and an acquired brain injury. He felt degraded and humiliated by the incident. Other prisoners in the unit who saw the incident expressed concern for his welfare.
We did not find enough evidence to conclude that officers deliberately failed to provide Lincoln with cleaning equipment. However, there was evidence of several communications between Lincoln and officers. Several checks were purportedly made by officers on Lincoln through ‘the trap’. These checks should have identified the contamination. Despite this, the contamination was not addressed.
Irrespective of intent, the actions of the prison were incompatible with Lincoln’s:
- Right to protection from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment ( section 10 of the Victorian Charter of Rights Act)
- Right to humane treatment when deprived of liberty ( section 22 of the Victorian Charter of Rights Act).
In line with our recommendations, the prison:
- apologised to Lincoln
- counselled the supervisor
- updated its procedures so prisoners on separation regimes have direct access to a supervisor once per day to raise concerns.