Port-a-loo use in prisons more than halved

port-a-loo prisonPrison leader Runar Jenserud and Jan Dyre Vaa (left), regional manager in the south of Statsbygg, look at the newly refurbished cells in Drammen Prison. The conditions are remedied with toilet and sink after the inmates had to use buckets for ten to thirteen hours of the day. Photo: Vegard Wivestad Grøn / NTB scanpix

Port-a-loo use in Norwegian prisons more than halved

In some prisons it is still the port-a-loo that is used when inmates got to go at night. It is still a long way to go before all high-security cells are equipped with their own water or rather, vacuum, closet.


– To go to the bathroom, when you feel that you got to do so, is obviously an advantage, says Manager of Drammen prison, Runar Jenserud, to NTB.

Port-a-loo’s and inmates locked in their cells for many hours without access to toilets, is regularly reported in the annual reports from the Ombudsman. In 2003, as an example, 300 prisoners in 11 different prisons lacked toilets in their cells.

Since then, the number of inmates who have to use the port-a-loo is reduced to less than 100. Some have gotten toilets installed in their cells, but most inmates still have to ask to be followed to the toilet.

Spent one man-year on toilet trips

Drammen Prison, built in 1962, has long been criticized for having the country’s poorest sanitary conditions. During weekends, the inmates are locked into their cells for 13 hours during the evening and night, on weekdays for ten hours. In this time they are not allowed visits to the communal toilets. The solution is the usage of port-a-loo’s.

In August, the prison opens again for full operation with vacuum toilets installed in all cells at a price tag of NOK 250,000 per cell.

Employees in the prison calculates that they spent about one man-year of follow inmates to the toilet. Prison Manager Runar Jenserud is looking forward to the fact that employees now can spend more time on professional work and less time on toilet visits.

Let out in order to visit the toilet

Several high-security prisons still has not got privies in all cells, but at most inmates are let out to visit a bathroom, even at night.

Torill Holsvik Høyem in the Correctional Services, Region North, confirms to NTB that both Trondheim and Vadsø jail has changed procedures and now follow inmates to the bathroom, following criticism from the Ombudsman.

In Eastern Norway there are several prisons without toilet on the cells, but it is only in Sarpsborg that the number of staff is so insufficient that the inmates are not allowed to leave the cells to go to toilet at night. In Sarpsborg Prison, only one of 25 cells has a toilet installed, according to regional director Jon Sverre Bråthen.

Criticism from the Committee Against Torture

The European Torture Prevention Committee has criticized Norwegian prisons that it can take up to one hour from an inmate asks to go to the bathroom to the employees have the time to attend, and that it is too long.

The Civil Ombudsman recommends that all cells to be equipped with a toilet.


© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today