West Law Report

Late transfer of prisoner

Posted in Times Law Report by mrkooenglish on February 19, 2009

From The TimesFebruary 6, 2009

Late transfer of prisoner
Court of Appeal
Published February 5, 2009
Regina (TF) v Secretary of State for Justice
Before Lord Justice Waller, Lord Justice Thomas and Lord Justice Aikens
Judgment December 18, 2008

A prisoner could be transferred to a mental hospital at the end of his sentence, only if two doctors recommended it and his medical condition and treatability justified it.

The Court of Appeal so stated when allowing an appeal by TF against the refusal by Mrs Justice Cox in the Queen’s Bench Division ([2008] EWHC 2912 (Admin)) of an application for judicial review of a direction by the Secretary of State for Justice to issue a warrant for his transfer to a hospital under section 47 of the Mental Health Act 1983 on the last day of his robbery sentence.

Mr Stephen Knafler and Mr Roger Pezzani for TF; Ms Katherine Olley for the Justice Secretary.

LORD JUSTICE WALLER said that where the secretary of state made a decision to issue a warrant directing transfer of a prisoner to a hospital under section 47 of the 1983 Act he had to be satisfied by reports from two medical practitioners of matters in section 47(1)(a) and (b).

If a decision was being taken at the end of the sentence, what must also be in the secretary of state’s mind was that a decision to direct a transfer could not be taken only on the ground that the prisoner would be a danger to the public if released, but could only be taken on the ground that his medical condition and its treatability justified the decision.

Where section 47 was proposed to be used at the end of the sentence, which would be in very exceptional circumstances, the onus was on the secretary of state to show that the mind of the decision-maker had focused on each of the criteria which it was necessary to satisfy if there was to be power to issue a warrant directing transfer to a hospital.

Lord Justice Thomas and Lord Justice Aikens agreed.

Solicitors: Campbell Taylor, Hackney; Treasury Solicitor.

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