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Court of Appeal rules that Smoking Ban does not apply to prisons

On the 8th March 2016 the Court of Appeal of England and Wales decided that the smoking ban does not apply to prisons. 

A prison inmate sought to challenge the Secretary of State’s decision to refuse to provide access to the NHS Smoke-Free Compliance Line at HMP Wymott, a state-run prison in which he was detained. 

The basis for the challenge was that the Secretary of State had misdirected himself in law, by concluding that the ban set out in Part I of the Health Act 2006 did not bind the Crown.  This meant that the Act did not require the prison to implement the ban.  The conclusion was based on the established legal principle that no statute binds the Crown unless it expressly says so or the Crown is bound by necessary implication.

Singh J had accepted that while there was no express provision the Crown was bound by necessary implication.  The Secretary of State’s decision was therefore quashed.  The Secretary of State appealed the decision and the Court of Appeal set aside the judgment of Singh J.

What does the decision mean?

The judgment does not prevent the Ministry of Justice from phasing in a ban on smoking in prisons and this is the intended action.  The decision means that the smoking ban as set out in Part I of the Health Act 2006 does not apply to prisons and other Crown premises.  However, since public prisons are state-run, smoking may otherwise be regulated under prison rules without the need for legislation.

You can read a recent article here and you may access a report from the Independent here.

Prisoners' Rights