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Rights as risk: managing human rights and risk in the UK prison sector

By Noel Whitty


Discourses of both risk and human rights circulate on a daily basis in the UK prison sector. Little attention, however, has been devoted to one overlap: the co-existing demands of organisational risk management and Human Rights Act compliance. This paper begins by highlighting some of the shifts towards 'business risk' management in prison governance, alongside the increasing recognition that human rights have the ability to manifest as significant organisational risks (for example, legal or reputational). It then draws upon three 'rights as risk' prisoner case studies from across the United Kingdom which vividly demonstrate how human rights violations can produce legal risk, and what I term 'legal risk+', for a particular prison organisation. By focusing on how actors outside the organisation have transformed human rights non-compliance into different types of risk, some of the effects of failure to manage human rights risk in the prison sector are illuminated. The paper ends with a call for closer scrutiny of the potential of organisational risk management to result in rights compliance - whereby human rights are viewed through a risk lens, and not just a rights one

Topics: K Law (General)
Publisher: Centre for Analysis of Risk and Regulation, London School of Economics and Political Science
Year: 2010
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online

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