Torture
An Iraqi man, who was allegedly held captive and beaten. Amnesty International found the use of torture to be "flourishing around the world"Getty

One third of the British population believe torture is acceptable in certain circumstances, according to research which highlights how television programmes glamorise the maltreatment of detainees.

An Amnesty International UK poll revealed that one in three Britons advocate the use of torture to protect the public, compared to 25% in Russia. In China, the figure is 74%. The survey was carried out for Amnesty by pollsters Globe Scan.

The survey showed that 44% of Britons rejected the idea that there should be a global ban on torture. As defined by the UN convention against torture and other inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment, torture has been subjected to a global ban spanning 30 years - which was ratified by 155 countries.

Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK, said: "These findings are alarming. We really didn't foresee this sort of response from people in the UK and it shows we have got a lot of work to do.

"It looks from these results like we have placed panic over principle. People have bought into the idea that their personal safety can be enhanced in some way through the use of torture. That is simply untrue.

"Programmes like 24, Homeland and Spooks have glorified torture to a generation - but there's a massive difference between a dramatic depiction by screenwriters, and its real-life use by government agents in torture chambers," Allen added.

The report showed 15% of people in Britain feared being tortured. Information collected around across the globe found that over 40% of 21,000 respondents said they believed they were not safe from torture.

"Three decades from the convention and more than 65 years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights torture is not just alive and well. It is flourishing," the report read.

The research was published as part of Amnesty's Stop Torture campaign launch. The campaign focuses on Mexico, the Philippines, Morocco and Western Sahara, Nigeria and Uzbekistan.

"It's almost become normalised, it's become routine," Salil Shetty, Amnesty secretary general  told reporters at the launch in London.

"Since the so-called war against terrorism, the use of torture, particularly in the United States and their sphere of influence has got so much more normalised as part of national security expectations," he said.

In 2013 and 2014, 27 different types of torture and ill-treatment were reported in around 79 countries. During the past five years, such practices have been recorded in over 141 countries, with victims including women and children.

The report cited examples such as beatings with fists and clubs, scalding with boiling water, electric shocks, sustained sleep deprivation and having cigarettes stubbed out on the body. Other forms of torture included needles being forced under victims' fingernails and a prisoner having their joints drilled.

According to Amnesty, dissidents, political rivals, criminal and security suspects and even children have been subjected to such procedures.

Prof Bernadette Rainey, a human rights expert at Cardiff Law School, told the BBC that malpractice happened in Europe. 

"Many violations concern conditions in prisons, in custody and disappearances," she said.