Prison and Police Law

Those who represent and have the responsibility for the exercise of the power of the state are held to account in any healthy democracy by the rule of law, exercised through the courts. Our barristers are committed to assisting in the system of justice to deliver fairness for all, including those suspected or accused of a crime, and those held by the state in prison.

Prison law

The lives, hopes and expectations of prisoners are subject to greater control by the state than virtually any other group of citizens. Their rights to early release, parole and access to training courses have all been tested in the courts in recent years and counsel at No5 Barristers’ Chambers have acted in some of the leading cases.

No5 barristers appear on behalf of vulnerable prisoners to assert these rights and ensure that the discretionary power of the state is not unlawfully exercised in breach of fundamental protections in the law, and in particular protections of liberty and against inhumane treatment.  Our barristers believe fair treatment is required for all persons over whom state bodies hold power and the corresponding duty of care.


Building on the strength of our experience in both related criminal law and sentencing, and in wider public law matters, our particular expertise on behalf of prisoners includes:

  • Applications for habeas corpus to secure release from unlawful detention
  • Appearing regularly before the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court in the context of Judicial Review challenges
  • Representation in Parole Board reviews, both pre-tariff and post-tariff for indeterminate prisoners, and in seeking release for some determinate sentence or recalled prisoners
  • Conduct of inquests arising in the prison, custody or detention context
  • Challenges to unlawful delays in parole hearing provision
  • Applications for compassionate release
  • Applications for release on Home Detention Curfew
  • Sentence calculation advice
  • Related extradition and deportation or immigration issues
  • Categorisation and transfer decisions
  • Protection of legal professional privilege and confidential correspondence with legal representatives
  • Challenges to failures to allow a reasonable rehabilitation opportunity or to apply required policy
  • Representation of prisoners at prison adjudications/disciplinary hearings, held before the Independent Adjudicator or the governor
  • Pursuing claims for compensation for miscarriages of justice and related civil litigation, including claims for assault, negligence, misfeasance and discrimination on the grounds of race, sex or disability, and claims for breaches of the Human Rights Act 1998
  • Appeals against conviction and sentence
  • Representation in matters concerning prisoners in British Overseas Territories, and before the Privy Council

Representation in respect of prisoners who are to be transferred overseas, or who are being repatriated from foreign prisons.

Actions against the police

In the course of police investigation, or of a failure to investigate, there can be an important impact upon the lives of a victim, or a falsely accused, the wrongly arrested, and those who suffer the results of a failing by the authorities.

Our members are available to advise as to the lawfulness of action and on the available remedies for those who are unhappy with their treatment by the authorities in whom they must place trust and faith. We have experience representing clients in matters including:

  • assault, negligence, misfeasance in public office
  • discrimination on the grounds of race, sex or disability
  • claims concerned with breaches of the Human Rights Act 1998
  • miscarriages of justice compensation claims
  • unlawful warrants, searches and seizures
  • Proceeds of Crime applications for forfeiture of cash
  • defamation actions
  • judicial review and appeals by way of case stated
  • challenges to the failure to prosecute
  • challenges to an unlawful prosecution

Some of our team are also available to advise local authorities, Chief Constables, and Police and Crime Commissioners, in civil claims, judicial review, appeals by way of case stated, and in matters concerning the organisation of police forces, policies on use of force, and safeguarding duties.


Several members of our team are recognised in the leading directories, the Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners, for their excellence in both advisory work and advocacy for their clients.

Related articles

In R(Dich & Murphy) v Parole Board and Secretary of State for Justice [2023] EWHC 945 (Admin) the Divisional Court (William Davis LJ and Johnson J) have clarified the scope of public protection test as it applies to fixed term prisoners....

Date: Tue, 02 May 2023
On 4 April 2023, the Divisional Court (Macur LJ and Chamberlain J) held a further hearing in the case of R (Bailey and Morris) v Secretary of State for Justice...

Date: Thu, 06 Apr 2023
The government has introduced into parliament a Victims and Prisoners Bill. This follows the “Root and Branch Review” of the Parole Board previously launched by the Secretary of State for Justice, and makes a number of provisions in relation to both victims and offenders....

Date: Fri, 31 Mar 2023