Case No: CO/10573/2011
3 July 2012
Summary of case
Challenge to regulations issued to prison governors giving them discretion to make deductions from the earnings of prisoners when they are employed outside the prison. It was argued that the rules were indirectly discriminatory against women prisoners contrary to article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights and that the Secretary of State for Justice had not complied with the equality duty when he issued these instructions.
The Secretary of State for Justice had not failed to have due regard to the impact of these regulations on women when he introduced them. The Judge concluded that:
there was no breach of the section 149 equality duty on the part of the Secretary of State when he promulgated the Prison Service Instructions. The implementation of the deductions regime proceeded in steps, from bringing the PEA into force (with consultation with relevant bodies involved with prisons, prisoners and penal policy directed to that question), to promulgating rule 31A (with a further EIA at that stage) to promulgating the Prison Service Instructions (with yet further EIAs at that stage as well). As is clear from the documents and from the evidence… on this part of the case, the Secretary of State plainly sought to have regard to the equality impacts of the deductions regime before bringing it into effect. In the course of consultation there was no major objection raised based on alleged disproportionate impact upon female prisoners as opposed to male prisoners… The Secretary of State reviewed such information as was reasonably available regarding possible equality impacts. The assessment cannot be described as perverse or unreasonable: the Secretary of State was entitled to conclude that, while in the absence of available evidence the potential for disproportionate impact in relation to sex could not be ruled out…overall the indications were that there would not be a significant differential impact of the Prison Service Instructions on female prisoners as opposed to male prisoners.