Sheriff throws out inmate's £10k handcuffing claim

A sheriff has backed the double handcuffing of dangerous prisoners after he threw out a £10,000 damages claim by an inmate who claimed he was humiliated by the practice.

The legal bid has been thrown out. Picture: PA
The legal bid has been thrown out. Picture: PA
The legal bid has been thrown out. Picture: PA

Several of Scotland’s most notorious prisoners, including murderers, have used taxpayers’ money to launch legal claims after being double cuffed by guards.

They claim the method used by G4S, where the prisoner’s wrists are cuffed together and a second set of cuffs is placed between one of their wrists and the wrist of a guard, is a breach of their human rights and have sued the security firm for thousands of pounds in compensation.

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But in a blow to their claims, a sheriff has described the use of double cuffs as “reasonable and proportionate” and dismissed suggestions it was “inhumane”.

Sheriff Nigel Ross made the remarks as he rejected a claim for damages from James McDowall, who is serving a nine-year sentence for attempted murder and was double cuffed during three hospital visits in 2013.

Following a hearing at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, he said: “However unpersuasive the pursuer’s evidence may be, it is still necessary to consider whether the defender’s system overall was degrading or inhumane.

“What is involved is a prediction of likely behaviour, of risk, against a background where a prisoner may act dishonestly or spontaneously and therefore cannot be relied upon to behave appropriately.

“Double cuffing appears to be reasonable and proportionate. It is also said to be widespread practice. No contrary evidence was led to show any support for a contrary view.”

Last year McDowall, 54, won his case after Sheriff Frank Crowe agreed his human rights had been breached but G4S successfully appealed the decision and the case was brought back to court.

Willie Galloway, head of operations at G4S Court Custody and Prisoner Escort Services said: “We are pleased at the outcome of this case.