Court Case Over Using Bucket Toilets In Jail

A convicted paedophile today branded the practice of "slopping out" in prisons as "demeaning and utterly despicable".

Roger Gleaves claims that having to use a bucket as a toilet in his cell while serving time at Albany prison on the Isle of Wight was a breach of his human rights, and is asking for a damages award of £2,600.

The Ministry of Justice is fighting the High Court actions brought by Gleaves and another ex-Albany inmate, 30-year-old Desmond Grant, which could force the Government to spend millions on upgrading old jails.

Slopping out was officially abolished in the UK in 1996, but a watchdog warned last year that 2,000 cells across 10 prisons still had no in-cell sanitation, and the practice of using a bucket at night continued.

Gleaves, 77, who was given a 15-year sentence at the Old Bailey in 1998 for the rape of two 14-year-old boys, was brought from Brixton prison to put his case.

Notorious as the self-styled Bishop of Medway, he was exposed as a paedophile in a 1970s television documentary which investigated the plight of youngsters ending up on the streets after travelling to the capital from the north.

He told Mr Justice Hickinbottom in London that the claim could not have arisen 100 years ago as all cells then had full sanitation - before plumbing was removed in 1900 to stop prisoners tapping messages to each other on the pipes.

He said: "The situation in regard to the use of buckets is deplorable because not every prisoner chooses to use it as the target for waste.

"Many put newspaper on the floor, use that and throw it out of the window.

"The use of this type of sanitation in cells is demeaning, utterly despicable in relation to people's behaviour and upsetting to a number of inmates who have never encountered such a practice before. It should never have been allowed."

Current practice is that all new prisons have a toilet in every cell but, in some older prisons where that is unavailable, prisoners operate a call button to ask for their cell to be unlocked so they can use facilities outside and are released one at a time for between six and 10 minutes. The wait depends on how many are in the queue.

The 10 prisons where in-cell sanitation facilities are not available are: Blundeston in Lowestoft, Suffolk; Bristol; Bulwood Hall, in Hockley, Essex; Coldingley in Surrey; Gloucester; Grendon, in Buckinghamshire; Hewell (Brockhill), in Redditch, Worcestershire; Isle of Wight (Albany); Long Lartin, in Evesham, Worcestershire; and Ranby in Nottinghamshire.