United Kingdom - Sanitary conditions


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Detention issue

Sanitary conditions

FRA research findings

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Legal instruments & key provisions

Legal instrument Key provision
England and Wales - Prison Rules 1999 Every prisoner shall be required to wash at proper times, have a hot bath or shower on reception and thereafter at least once a week. For uncrowded conditions […] the requirement is that prisoners must be able to use the WC “in private”. This is defined to mean full body visual screening from all points in the cell or room as would be provided at a minimum by a cubicle. The WC area must also be ventilated separately to the living area. […]. For crowded conditions the requirement is that prisoners must be able to use the WC “with some privacy”. This is defined to mean body screening, when using the WC, from the fixed points of the cell i.e. the table(s) and beds. Thus, for example, suitable screening will be required when doubling up in a single cell with integral sanitation. For crowded conditions, the WC area need not be ventilated separately. Few prisons built recently have in-cell showers
and although some prisons offer both in-cell showers and communal showers depending on the blocks, communal showers remain the norm in England and Wales prisons. Scotland - Prisons and Young Offenders Institutions (Scotland) Rules 2011
Prisoners must have the opportunity to keep clean by providing access at reasonable times to such facilities for washing, bathing and showering as are necessary for health and hygiene in order that a prisoner can bathe or shower on a daily basis where adequate arrangements can be made or where adequate arrangements cannot be made […] at least every other day. Toilet facilities must be accessible at all times either freely or upon request . The Scottish prison estate is fairly recent and several prisons have single cells with in-cell toilets and/or showers. When in-cell toilets are not provided, prisoners have access to shared toilets at all times when unlocked and through an electronic unlocking system at night. Three prisons have in-cell en-suite showers and one has both communal and in-cell en-suite showers. Other prisons have communal showers and prisoners usually have daily access to them.
Northern Ireland - Prison and Young Offenders Centres Rules (Northern Ireland) 1995 Every prisoner shall be allowed adequate access to sanitation facilities and water for health and cleanliness and will be provided with an appropriate range of toilet articles, which shall be replaced as necessary. Every prisoner shall be required to keep himself clean by washing at proper times and by having a hot bath or shower at least once a week unless excused by the governor or a registered nurse or a health care officer. Newest units have single cells with en-suite toilets and showers. Single cells have en-suite toilets and bathrooms. Usually, most single cells have in-cell toilets with screening. However, shared showers remain the norm in Northern Ireland.


Year Recommendation Report
2017 The NPM for England and Wales expects prisoners to “have access to drinking water, a toilet and washing facilities at all times” and to be allowed to “shower or bathe in private every day.” They must be “provided with basic hygiene items for their personal use.” Report details