Re Baker and other Applicants: QBNI 1992

The court considered the meaning of the Prisons Rules, and the ability of a governor to order searches of prisoners: ‘the power conferred by Rule 9(1) is intended to be an unqualified power, and the governor is entitled to order a prisoner to be searched whenever he sees fit, subject only to contrary direction of the Secretary of State. It would, I think, be inconsistent with the position of a prisoner lawfully confined in a prison to import a qualification into the power of search which would permit him or her to decide whether the search order was validly given and the reason for it properly explained, to refuse to obey and to resist the officer directed to carry out the search. To permit this would tend to undermine prison discipline to a material degree, and I do not think that it was intended . . In any event, I consider that it was perfectly obvious to all the prisoners searched that the prison officers were searching for some unauthorised object or objects. That knowledge found sufficient notification of the reason for the search, if such notification was, contrary to my view, required. It was not incumbent upon the governor to have the prisoners informed of the exact nature of the object being sought, still less to divulge where the information came from that led him to decide to have the search carried out.’


Carswell J


(1992) 8 NIJB 86

Cited by:

CitedRegina v Carroll and Al-Hasan and Secretary of State for Home Department Admn 16-Feb-2001
The claimants challenged the instruction that they must squat whilst undergoing a strip search in prison. A dog search had given cause to supect the presence of explosives in the wing, and the officers understood that such explosives might be hidden . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Northern Ireland, Prisons

Updated: 30 April 2022; Ref: scu.211429