HMIPS will continue to inspect and monitor Scotland's prisons, Court Custody Units and Prisoner Transport during the current pandemic. It is never more important than during a pandemic, when measures which the Scottish Prison Service may be obliged to put in place to deal with the increased risks in relation to COVID-19 could potentially impact on the freedoms, rights and health of prisoners. HMIPS has implemented a blended model of remote monitoring and shorter scrutiny liaison visits. We will provide feedback regularly to the Scottish Prison Service, Scottish Government and the Cabinet Secretary for Justice. We will continue to publish our annual and liaison visit reports, including the impact of COVID-19 where reports cover that period. We accept that some recommendations from our reports will not be able to be actioned in current circumstances.
At times during the pandemic we may have to suspend activites, hopefully only for a short period, to reassess the situation and ensure the virus transmission risks to those in our prisons and court custody units, and to the wider community and our own team, posed by our on-site inspection and monitoring activites do not outweigh the benefits. In such circumstances we will resume on-site inspection and monitoring as soon as it is safe to do so.
Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland is required to inspect the 15 prisons across Scotland in order to establish the treatment of, and the conditions for prisoners and to report publicly on the findings. The Public Services Reform (Inspection and Monitoring of Prisons) (Scotland) Order 2015 came into force on 31 August 2015 and from this date HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland assumed overall responsibility for the monitoring of prisons, which is carried out on a day to day basis by independent prison monitors.
The United Kingdom is a signatory of the United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhumane and Degrading Treatement or Punishment (OPCAT). HMIPS is one of 21 bodies that comprise the UKs National Preventative Mechanism (NPM), which has a duty to regularly monitor the treatment of detainees and the conditions in which they are held.
The Chief Inspector also has responsibility for the inspection of the treatment of and conditions for prisoners under escort.
The Chief Inspector produces and publishes an Annual Report which is presented to the Scottish Ministers and laid before Parliament.