HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland was established on 1 January 1981, following the publication in 1979 of a report by the Committee of Inquiry into the United Kingdom Prison Services (The May Committee). This report recommended that there should be a system of inspection of the Prison Service distanced as far as may be practicable from the Prison Department. Subsequently, the post of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland was approved. The first Chief Inspector received his Royal Warrant of appointment on 29 October 1980.
The role of the HM Chief Inspector of Prisons (HMCIP) was placed on a statutory basis by the Prisons (Scotland) Act 1980.
D A Philip Barry CBE (1980 – 1986); T B Buyers OBE (1986 – 1989); Alan H Bishop CB (1989 – 1994); Colonel Clive B Fairweather CBE OBE (1994 – 2002); The Very Rev Dr Andrew R C McLellan CBE (2002 – 2009); Brigadier the Hon Hugh B H E Monro CBE (2009 – 2013); David J R Strang QPM (2013 – 2018); Wendy Sinclair-Gieben (2018 to date).
The Chief Inspector's main statutory responsibilities are:
- the regular inspection of individual establishments
- responsibility for the monitoring of prisons
- the production of an Annual Report
- the inspection of the conditions and treatment of prisoners under escort.