HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland - Annual Report 2010-2011

Annual Report

Executive Summary

ISBN 978 1 78045 310 1
DPPAS 11881

This document is also available in pdf format (444KB)


Chapter 1 Overview

Chapter 2 Summary of Inspections Undertaken

Chapter 3 Review of the Prison Inspectorate's Year 2010-2011



HM Chief Inspector of Prisons Hugh Monro CBE
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons
Hugh Monro CBE


This is my second Annual Report as Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons, a year in which the Inspectorate has carried out a number of important inspections and also a significant Review of the Arrangements for Progressing Prisoners to the Open Estate (better known as 'The Progression Review').

This Annual Report gives me an opportunity to summarise what I have seen. My first Annual Report was inevitably 'inquisitive' in nature and my intention this year is to set out some opinions I have gained from my inspections and many visits to Scotland's prisons.

The Inspectorate is determined to be helpful not only to the individual prisons reported on, but also to the Board of the Scottish Prison Service ( SPS). Increasingly, individual prisons are coping with issues which they have little ability to address as resources become scarcer. Inevitably, therefore, my reports have included recommendations to the Board and to the Scottish Government.

This Overview sets out the context of the inspecting year 2010-11, discusses the main issues I have seen, as well as other trends and the Areas of Special Interest I set out last year.

Context of Young Offending in Scotland

A particular concern I have is the effect of imprisonment on young people in Scotland. It is increasingly recognised within the Scottish Government that a better way would be to improve greatly the environment in which children grow up and I begin this Annual Report by discussing this aspect.

The 'offending landscape' in Scotland remains a challenge. It is clear from my many discussions with young offenders and prisoners that growing up in certain areas lacks the positive stimuli that other children gain from. Most worryingly young offenders reinforce the view that parts of Scotland encourage a culture of violence, a culture that also suffers from the added scourge of religious bigotry. It is this culture that I have seen going around prisons and most obviously when I inspected Addiewell in 2010 where I found that levels of violence are high.

Indeed I have heard young offenders say that their family and relations have not only encouraged retaliation in incidents of conflict but demanded it; to do otherwise would encourage bullying, something that would bring shame and weakness to the family. It is hardly surprising therefore that young men (and increasingly young women) get themselves into dangerous situations of violence that inevitably either result in tragedy or certainly offences requiring a prison sentence. This culture will not be eradicated quickly, but, like religious bigotry, needs to be addressed on a number of fronts otherwise the scourge of violence will continue and possibly increase. I strongly endorse the work of the Violence Reduction Unit to reduce levels of violence.

Prisoners tell me that this same landscape also excludes them from school. Indeed, according to their accounts, many young offenders hardly attend school from the ages of 13 or 14 onwards. Therefore they have little understanding about responsibility, aspiration or the need to become qualified to get a job. It is during this time of exclusion (a term I use in both a physical and a moral context) that young people get involved with alcohol, violence and possibly early experimentation with drugs. They may even be in regular contact with adult drug dealers. Inclusion in school is now seen as the way ahead, but every child that is excluded from school is at risk.

It is these young people I eventually get to talk to in Polmont or Cornton Vale. It is not only a tragedy that they have taken this route (because the majority will inevitably re-offend) but also that the talents they have been given have not been developed and nurtured at an early age, so that they can, like their peers, be a positive asset.

Is it too late to transform young offenders by the time they get to prison? The historical figures show that the majority will return to prison either in the short or longer-term [1]. Society asks the SPS to change the behaviour of prisoners, sometimes during very short sentences of only a few weeks or months. Yet the young offenders I talk to have been deeply affected by their upbringing and it is a comprehensive challenge to improve them in prison.

Nevertheless, I do see young people gain from positive access, in prison, to education, vocational training and work. For many, prison will be the first experience of a gymnasium, a library or one-to-one mentoring by a responsible adult. Whilst (as I discuss below) I do not think there is sufficient access to such opportunities in Scotland's prisons, I acknowledge considerable efforts by prisons and by highly motivated individuals (including from the Third Sector) within them to try to reform all prisoners young and older. Aside from the punishment of loss of liberty and the need to secure offenders during their sentence, it is my view that the most important reason for sending offenders to prison is to prepare them for release back in to the community; the foremost aim must be to reform and rehabilitate and so reduce the risks of re-offending. This is particularly important for Young Offenders.

My concern, as Chief Inspector, is to warn that young people from areas of risk must be nurtured and not excluded; be treated as individuals and given positive examples by adult role models from the start; be given opportunities to access sporting and cultural activities by youth movements, clubs and other organisations and for this to be coordinated with schools; be delivered into society on leaving school as responsible citizens equipped to play to their strengths and not be subject to the demons of violence, domestic abuse, religious bigotry, drink and drugs.

This will not happen overnight, but cultures and behaviours need to be changed and improved with a fully integrated and coordinated strategy across Scotland. To do otherwise will invite yet another generation of young people into Polmont and Cornton Vale. What a waste that would be.

Inspection Year 2010-2011

This has been a difficult year for the SPS who have faced budget cuts, a high profile court case concerning conditions for sex offenders at Peterhead and sustained overcrowding. Cornton Vale and the ever-growing number of female prisoners has been another issue which is an ongoing challenge in terms of resources and a specific overcrowding problem; the effects of these have caused serious issues which I discuss below.

The result of these and other challenges has required the SPS to move a high number of sex offenders from Peterhead to Glenochil and consider more carefully the management of women offenders.The SPS also continues to meet with the challenge of NHS assumption of responsibility for prisoners' healthcare from November 2011. This does not come without concerns over governance, resourcing and staffing. Nevertheless a considerable amount of work has gone into preparation for the transfer and it will be important to see this rewarded with improved services and through care. The Inspectorate is engaging with Healthcare Improvement Scotland to determine how best to inspect the new healthcare arrangements.

The Inspectorate recognises that the SPS has made significant investment in developing a fit-for-purpose estate. The new prison being built at Low Moss and the re-development of Shotts are on track. I look forward to commenting on Low Moss and Shotts in next year's report.

The Inspectorate has carried out full inspections of Glenochil (April 2010), Peterhead (June 2010), Addiewell (November 2010), a follow-up inspection of Cornton Vale in February 2011 and a root and branch Review of the Arrangements for Progressing Prisoners from Closed to Open Conditions. All of these are discussed in general below and in more detail in Chapter 2. All reports are available on the Inspectorate's website:

Last year I reported that I intended to put the issue of Prisoner Visitor Centres "… on to the National agenda, as it will require more than just SPS action to move forward." With support from Families Outside and Crossreach, we have done exactly that by producing a paper for the Justice Secretary and subsequent liaison with Scottish Government Officials. It is my vision that visitors to every prison in Scotland should have access to a facility, staffed by Third Sector organisations, often using volunteers, to allow the families of prisoners to find somewhere to relax, to find help, advice and support.

Prisoner Visitor Centres could be a useful coordination point for visitors to access other important services such as health or finding advice about issues such as learning difficulties. I have noted that Visitor Centres have been discussed at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland this year with the support of my predecessor, The Very Reverend Dr Andrew McLellan. I feel there is a real impetus behind this initiative which is reaching down to organisations such as Crossreach and communities across Scotland; it is very much on the National agenda. Now local communities and organisations can be encouraged to resource and staff Visitor Centres at prisons and can begin to discuss with prison governors how such centres might be delivered.

In summary it has been a busy year, yet much needs to be achieved in order to push forward the various issues I raise in this report. I set out the main issues and trends that have come up during the year, discuss my Areas of Special Interest followed by my conclusions.

Main Issues

Cornton Vale

Cornton Vale was my first full inspection in September 2009 and I published the report on that inspection in January 2010. I made reference to the 'plight' of female offenders in last year's Annual Report. During that inspection I had very real anxieties about the prison. It was clearly overcrowded; boredom was a constant for the majority of prisoners and the prison required modernisation in various important areas such as healthcare and separation and care. The report set out strong criticisms of the prison as well as 22 Recommendations for improvement. As a result of this I announced I would return to inspect progress in February 2011.

I was keen that the Inspectorate should be helpful during this process and I had also returned for an interim visit in September 2010. Following this visit I set out, for the Chief Executive and the Governor, my thoughts on where action was still needed.

After the Follow Up Inspection I reported that I was disappointed at the lack of progress in the provision of acceptable conditions and treatment for prisoners and young offenders being held there. Many of the issues are caused by overcrowding which has been going on for far too long. Overcrowding [2] at Cornton Vale means that staff are unable to give sufficient attention to prisoners, that access for prisoners to activities such as education and vocational training is very poor and that the treatment of prisoners is insufficiently good.

Consequently the dignity, safety, infection control, mental health and general health issues are even more stark than in 2009. Following my inspection I reported on a recurring theme I identified in relation to levels of trust, most apparent to me in matters of complaint handling, and a perception by prisoners that the system was suspect. This was a matter which the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman considered when he and his staff visited Cornton Vale, along with a number of other prisons, as part of his familiarisation with the system prior to adopting responsibility for prisoner complaints in 2010. Subsequently there has been further dialogue between SPS and the Ombudsman in order to address areas of concern.

Mental Health is a particular concern at Cornton Vale and the report highlights that the recommended individual multidisciplinary mental health plans have not been sufficiently well implemented. Prisoners suffering from mental health issues at the prison require a much more caring and therapeutic approach from staff and I was disappointed to see the continued use of the 'Management Suite' cells in Ross House. I have called for better facilities to provide improved separation and care.

The Family Contact Officers continue to be praised at Cornton Vale and they carry out this work despite an environment wholly unsuited to children and other members of prisoners' families. Cornton Vale would be my top priority for a Visitor Centre.

Conditions at Cornton Vale are depressing and resources should have been allocated to create a new Separation and Care Unit (to replace the Ross House 'Management Suite'), a new Mother and Baby Unit and a new Health Centre. It is some time since I first made these recommendations and we must now await the outcome of the Commission on Female Offending to see the way ahead for Cornton Vale.

Perhaps the most depressing aspect of Cornton Vale is the sheer boredom experienced by most prisoners, with some 65% locked in their cells and only 35% at education or employability training or work during the working day. If women are to return successfully to communities and to their families, they will need much greater preparation for release and this can only come with improved access to activities. What is the point of sending women to prison if they are locked up for much of the time instead of being able to improve themselves for the future? There is a very real danger that women leave prison less prepared for returning to their families, than if they had not gone to prison in the first place. This is an issue that must be addressed.

The Follow Up Report also recommended that there is a need for a National Strategy to cope with growing female prisoner numbers. I therefore welcome the Scottish Government's announcement, on the same day that my report was published, to appoint a Commission to look in to female offending to be chaired by Dame Elish Angiolini.

Finally I felt that there had been insufficient strategic direction from SPSHQ and there remains a need for improved and strong national and local leadership to deal with the shocking and challenging issues in the prison. I very much hope that this will change now that the Commission has been launched and that fewer women are to be located at Cornton Vale.

Scotland has to treat female offenders in a more holistic manner. Many should be cared for in the community with effective and robust community sentencing and work. Such work needs to address underlying behaviour such as drink and drugs, issues at home such as domestic abuse and physical and mental health issues. To ignore these at an early stage is to condemn women to prison and yet more re-offending thereafter. Equally, victims' concerns need to be taken account of too, hence why there is a need for improved and accepted alternatives to prison.

I hope to see a greatly improved way of dealing with female offenders in prison. Improving Cornton Vale is the Inspectorate's top priority and I shall continue to inspect Cornton Vale regularly until such stage that the prison reaches a more than satisfactory standard in all respects.

Access to Purposeful Activities

A common theme in this year's reports has been poor access to activities such as education, employability training, work, PE and programmes. The Inspectorate now carries out an activity check twice during each inspection to see how many prisoners are actually locked in cells and how many are in gainful activity.

The approximate figures are:

Prison % out at activity % in halls
(inc. pass jobs)
Glenochil 37 63
Peterhead 50 50
Addiewell 60 40
Cornton Vale 35 65

What these figures do not show is that it is usually those on remand or serving short-term sentences who lose out (or in the case of Addiewell those serving long-term sentences). Access to out-of-cell activities is a vital part of preparing prisoners for return to communities, for only by accessing such activities can offending behaviour be addressed. Prisoners need to acquire skills, knowledge, aspiration and self-discipline. In total this will produce more confident and better-equipped people, better prepared to deal with the challenges of society.

When I inspected Glenochil, in April 2010, I commented "… I am concerned about the number of prisoners remaining in Halls during the day instead of being involved in gainful activity… and that there is a [consequent] paucity of regime for many short-term prisoners." Since then the prison's education centre has been completed and I had hoped that access for prisoners would improve. However, in October the arrival of 150 sex offenders from Peterhead complicated the regime at Glenochil, further reducing access to activities for all prisoners. I will be reviewing this unsatisfactory situation during 2011-12. The situation at Cornton Vale is, as I have already described, even worse, but should improve greatly once 114 prisoners have been moved to Ratho Hall. Addiewell aspires to provide personal timetables for each individual prisoner and overall I was impressed by the efforts to encourage prisoner participation in activities.

The reality is, however, not as good as it could be and I hope that access to work for long-term prisoners will improve. This is one aspect that I will be re-inspecting at Addiewell in due course.

In essence, I am calling for an improvement in the opportunities for access to gainful activity. It is my assessment that, over the years, access to activities, and particularly work, have been reduced. I strongly recommend that this process is reversed. There is soon to be a strategic opportunity to improve this situation once the new prisons at Low Moss and Grampian open because this should mean a reduction in overcrowding. The result should be greatly improved access to purposeful activity. I shall be monitoring this as events unfold.

Progression to the Open Estate

I carried out a major Progression Review [3] at the request of the Cabinet Secretary for Justice in order to report whether the arrangements for progressing prisoners to open conditions are operating effectively.

The Review concluded that advances have been made in prisoner progression and risk assessment procedures. However it is also clear that prisoner progression relies on decision-making based on good risk assessment processes including multi-disciplinary working. As the report says: '… risk assessment itself is a fallible undertaking.'

On the face of it, the best way to reduce risk might be to reduce progression further and retain more numbers of prisoners in closed conditions. I have concluded, however, that to do so would in fact increase risk because suitable prisoners would not have the opportunity to be 'tested' in work placements or on home leave. The Open Estate prepares prisoners for release back into the community and has an important role to play, however it has never been the case that all prisoners would progress via that route. A significant number of prisoners are serving short-term sentences and consequently are released from closed conditions. At some stage prisoners are going to be liberated and it seems to me that the better prisoners are prepared for release the more likely they are to succeed. It is my view that, provided the correct processes have been followed and risk assessments have been properly carried out by risk management-trained people and in multi-disciplinary groups, progression to the Open Estate should be increased.

I am delighted to see the positive response to the Progression Review by the SPS. In particular I am pleased to see the Prisoner Supervision System Review taking place as recommended in the Report. The Inspectorate will continue to monitor risk assessment and risk management procedures.

Sex Offenders

The issue of sex offenders is even more complicated given that the likelihood of re-offending is potentially greater even than for 'mainstream' violent offenders. Assessment of risk and access to community placements are key factors in being able to progress sex offenders. Relatively few sex offenders serving long sentences are progressed to the Open Estate. During my inspection of Peterhead, for example, only nine prisoners had progressed to a National Top End or the Open Estate in the previous two years while 150 were released directly in to the community, via their local establishments, in the same timescale. The consequence of this restrictive policy is that the opportunities for sex offenders to re-integrate and to learn how to do so are limited and therefore they are increasingly being liberated straight into communities without such preparation. I recognise, however, that they are still subject to statutory supervision.

My recommendation in the Peterhead Report is that a National Sex Offender Strategy is produced to provide guidance as to how sex offenders are prepared for release. Such a Strategy should address the question 'how should convicted sex offenders best be prepared for re-integration back into society?' This is not an easy question to answer and it may be that the procedures and practices used to assess sex offenders since the publication of the joint SWIA, HMIP and HMICS report on Serious and Violent Offenders in 2008 will need further review. There must be a workable Sex Offender Strategy if sex offenders are to be rehabilitated safely and such a strategy may require national guidance since it will involve more than the SPS to deliver.

Areas of Special Interest

Last year I explained that to help me examine the treatment of prisoners and the conditions in which they are held and to understand better the prison environment, I had focused on six Areas of Special Interest. I have found this to be a successful way of looking at important issues and to report on them more comprehensively. I also feel these Areas of Special Interest have allowed prisons to look at areas which are seen as important; consequently there has been improvement.

Training and Development of Staff

Last year I reported that the Inspectorate had found gaps in SPS training and in some respects these gaps continue. For example I have reported that in Cornton Vale staff are inadequately trained to deal with some of the serious mental health issues at the prison. At Peterhead, I was disappointed to report there is insufficient role-specific training. At Glenochil I found no evidence to show the link between the Personal Performance Management Plan, the Personal Learning and Development Plan and a local training and development strategy. I have found that child protection training delivery is not as consistent as it should be, despite the fact that children visit every prison, although Peterhead has made efforts to address this shortfall.

Nevertheless I have seen improvements, especially in some specific prisons such as Peterhead and at Addiewell. In the former, the prison has made specific efforts to improve developmental training and processes to increase 'training the trainer'. At Addiewell I reported on the staff development programme, using their on-site facility.

Equally I have been impressed by improvements, led by the SPS College, to introduce training for First Line Managers and others on promotion as well as for specific requirements such as risk management training. I would still like to see Training and Development being the very foundation for the ethos of the SPS. In other words the values and standards of the Service should be based on excellent through-career development and leadership training. I will be monitoring comprehensive improvements across the Estate to train Personal Officers, something which I have been calling for since I arrived in post.

I would also like to see an emphasis on 'Leadership' training for all grades. Better leadership would improve communication, improve motivation and deliver an even better trained, motivated and focused service. It would also help with succession planning at all levels. In particular I would like to see courses to prepare streams of potential governor grades and for that to continue right up to the highest Bands so that senior managers and governors are always trained and prepared for their forthcoming role.

I continue to praise the Fauldhouse training facility where I have seen excellent training of highly-motivated officers taking place. I often see superb signs of leadership and team-bonding at Fauldhouse and I question why there is little obvious career reward for individuals who perform well during such training. This training provides a real core of highly competent professionals and I hope that ethos can be more widely recognised. I wonder whether there should be a larger personnel margin to allow improved access to training provision.

Finally I have been impressed by the quality and enthusiasm of the new recruits I have seen both during their excellent training at the college and also when I visit prisons and see them on duty.

Smuggling of Illicit Items

All my reports this year have discussed the efforts to reduce smuggling of illicit items into prisons. I remain disappointed that in many prisons security is not sufficiently good to address this important issue. However, at Addiewell (the first time this private prison has been inspected) I reported that: "There are continuous efforts to deter and defeat smuggling. Everyone, including the Director, inspectors, staff and visitors are thoroughly searched on entry to the prison as is mail and prisoners' property. All of this is supported by excellent technical systems incorporating biometric controls. "There is a focused and determined effort to thwart illegal access. I recommend that the SPS introduces similar standards of security and technical systems into all closed prisons."

I repeat that recommendation and urge that staff training, standards and technical support are improved to reduce illegal smuggling. There is, of course, a delicate balance between encouraging family visits and stopping visitors from passing on illicit items and this is not easy to achieve. That balance must always be addressed.


One aspect of prison is to reduce re-offending and there is a need to address the underlying issues of offending behaviour such as alcohol or drug addiction. Considerable money, time and effort is put into addressing these and of course this is wasted if illegal drugs are still being taken.

Under current arrangements it is difficult to assess how many prisoners are taking illegal drugs because the current 'prevalence testing' is too 'blunt' to assess precisely which prisoners are taking them. Therefore the current system does not inform Governors and Directors about the progress which individual prisoners are making, nor does it help in detecting changes in the types of drugs being used. Trends cannot be followed. I have called for a more comprehensive testing regime that better informs about trends and the progress of individual prisoners.

Nevertheless, I am more confident that substance misuse services are being delivered by healthcare addiction nurses and by Phoenix Futures. I still have a concern that insufficient numbers of prisoners on methadone prescriptions are being encouraged and supported to move to reducing doses. I would like to see many more prisoners leaving prison on minimum doses or even total abstinence, subject, of course, to the right of doctors to prescribe what they believe is best for individual prisoners.

Finally I would like to see increased opportunities and encouragement for prisoners to access alcohol reduction programmes. Too often I see addressing alcohol issues as being the less important issue after drug addiction, yet it is often alcohol that, on release, causes domestic abuse, violence and recourse to drugs. I believe more emphasis needs to be put into this aspect of addictions work as, currently, the numbers who attended relevant programmes are quite small. In the establishments subject to full inspection during the year, the following numbers are pertinent:

Prison Programme Completed Prisoners
Peterhead Alcohol Awareness 31
Controlling Anger Regulating Emotions 15
Glenochil Alcohol Awareness 23
Substance Related Offending Behaviour 20
Addiewell Control of Violence for Angry and
Impulsive Drinkers
Alcohol Awareness 12
Controlling Anger Regulating Emotions 4
Managing my Substance Misuse 16

Family Contact

I remain convinced that good quality family contact results in improved outcomes for prisoners both in prison and on return to the community. Why?It seems to me that the presence of families in Integrated Case Management meetings, for example, raises the opportunities for success because of the family understanding of the issues and this is introduced into the decision-making process.

Some prisons are beginning to make progress in this respect: "Contact with families is exceptionally good and consequently Addiewell has amongst the highest figures for family attendance at Integrated Case Management meetings with a 20% attendance rate." However I also report "... [Glenochil] is actively trying to involve families in induction and in ICM, but again with little success: poor transport links do not help achieve better attendance." The Governor at Glenochil, supported by the CJA, has tried all sorts of methods to improve transport links but to no avail. It is this very isolation which makes Glenochil a priority for a Visitor Centre, something which the prison tried to obtain, but failed through lack of support. I have referred already to the poor facilities at Cornton Vale and urge that integrated local and national action is taken to improve family contact, particularly at Glenochil and Cornton Vale. That said, I understand that many prisoners will not consent to their families being in attendance because of the nature of their offences.

Community Partnerships

Community Partnerships are continuing to improve. Glenochil "…continues to develop good links with community-based organisations, with a focus on helping prisoners progress within the system and to reintegrate back in to the community." At Addiewell "Community links are excellent and this area reflects good practice." There are good links with North and South Lanarkshire Councils and with Third Sector organisations. Peterhead has clear limitations in terms of sex offenders being able to access local placements but outside groups do undertake work inside the prison.

Preparation for Release

I am delighted that the Inspectorate has carried out the Progression Review as it sets out how prisons can better progress prisoners through both closed prisons and out of the Open Estate. This document should be essential reading for all Risk Management Teams ( RMT). We shall be following up to ensure recommendations on progression are being followed.

However, I remain concerned about relatively poor access to essential programmes and especially to the Violence Prevention Programme ( VPP) at Glenochil. VPP is very staff and resource-intensive and it is only possible to run one course per year in the prisons that do deliver it. Only 10 prisoners in Glenochil had completed the programme last year, while over 100 prisoners had been assessed to attend it. That is a huge gap. I report "The VPP in particular creates expectations in terms of progression and Parole which cannot be met." I have therefore urged that a review is undertaken by the SPS to address this considerable gap and to recommend how best to deal with it. I shall be monitoring progress this year.

In last year's Annual Report I said: "... without being able to track offenders when they are released back into the community it is almost impossible to measure the effectiveness of the various programmes and interventions to which they have been exposed in prison." I have seen little improvement in this respect. What we need is integrated programmes at a local level with coordination of effort between the prison, local services and community groups. All of this is possible and I am aware of one trial project in Aberdeen, to run for three years and I hope that this will be a catalyst for change in Scotland.

I continue to worry, as I first observed in last year's report, about how prisoners are actually released back to their community and family. Most prisoners are liberated directly from the prison. They receive a ticket to travel on public transport and, if eligible, a discharge grant. Many, and particularly those with addictions, face a number of hurdles. I spoke to a female offender due to be released from Cornton Vale and who would take the long train journey north. She told me she had a drink problem and had failed this journey before. I have heard young offenders tell me how they have addressed their drink problem in Polmont but are met, on release, by their friends who are keen to celebrate and before long (sometimes within hours) are back in custody.

Given the considerable costs of imprisonment and of programmes to address addictions, it seems to me that liberation on traditional lines needs to be reviewed. Prisoners should be released in a more integrated fashion and with greater care. Couldn't the woman prisoner from Cornton Vale have been released from Inverness Prison and directly into the care of her family or others from the community? Greater care should be taken over the release of young offenders as some need more support than others. Individual assessments should be undertaken to assess the level of risk.

Way Forward

These Areas of Special Interest have served a useful and relevant purpose, but I intend to replace these in 2011-12 with specific short-term aims for the Inspectorate. These are prioritised as follows:

1st.To seek to improve treatment and conditions for female offenders. HMIP will continue to focus on Cornton Vale but will also observe and report on female offenders in male prisons. After many years of concern about Cornton Vale, there is now real momentum for improvement. It is my intention to see this momentum speed up and to see real improvements related to needs and outcomes.

2nd.To facilitate the introduction of Prisoner Visitor Centres. To encourage and persuade the Scottish Government, community groups and Third Sector organisations in conjunction with the SPS to establish Prison Visitors' Centres or similar facilities at every prison.

3rd.To seek improved prisoner access to purposeful activity. To recommend a significant increase in the number of prisoners spending time out of cell, ensuring greater access to purposeful activity, as well as ensuring the range and quality of such activities is also improved.

4th.To encourage improved preparation for release. To encourage improved access to accredited pre-release programmes for long-term prisoners and sex offenders as well as the production of an approved programme for short-term offenders. I would also like to see more integrated community programmes to ensure that prisoners are liberated with improved practical and moral support in to the community. It is my view that the current arrangements should be reviewed.

Conclusions and the Challenges Ahead

It has been a busy and productive year.

Last year I accused the SPS of being: "…an organisation that hides its light under a bushel" going on to say that it "has much of which to be justifiably proud and yet spends much of the time being unnecessarily defensive." Having had the privilege to view and inspect the SPS for a second year, I can say that this is a Service of which Scotland should be proud. It is the custodian of the most violent, dangerous and vulnerable people, many of whom suffer from mental health issues, and from underlying alcohol and drug abuse problems. This is a challenging mix and by and large it is met well by excellent individual officers and by the Service as a whole. I want to see a well-led Scottish Prison Service that takes the credit where it is due and is very much in the conscience of the public.

One of the ways to improve its reputation in this regard is for the SPS to improve the way it passes on 'good practice'. I make specific efforts to highlight such practice in all of my reports, yet rarely do I see similar efforts to include such practice where it is relevant and would be helpful. I urge that 'good practice' is communicated much more effectively than currently.

The ethos of the Service would be further strengthened if good work and service could be more effectively recognised. I have had the privilege of presenting the new Long Service medals and can report the very strong feeling of pride those medals engendered. I hope a respected system of commendations at both Governor and Service level can be either instituted or re-energised so that staff and team achievements can be properly recognised. Staff would feel even more valued if they are regularly visited by members of the Board either in the margins of meetings or during individual visits to establishments. Too often I feel staff achieve 'targets' but are not thanked for doing so; regular visits are excellent ways for senior staff to listen, to communicate and to praise.

Violence within prisons remains a concern which I will be looking at more closely this coming year. Is this due to overcrowding in which case I would hope to see a reduction once Low Moss opens? I would hope to see this reduce as individual prisons improve their security and so reduce the numbers of mobile phones and illegal substances. Or is this due to the prisoner 'mix' and the tensions in communities being reflected in prison?

Another area which I shall be commenting on in the future is the large numbers of untried prisoners on remand; their presence raises the prison population by approximately 15%. As I have already described many of these have poor access to activities while they wait to be tried. If so many untried people are to be put in to prison (and I question the need for this) then prisons should be resourced to ensure they have good access to purposeful activity; I shall be monitoring this in the coming year.

As ever, I see too many movements to courts for hearings. This is expensive and wastes time and effort when, as I called for last year, little use is made of TV link technology. When I visited Barlinnie in July 2010 and looked at the excellent TV link court there, the record showed that there had been only five hearings using the facility during the previous month, and all for hearings in England. I urge that prison facilities are upgraded to the standard I saw at Barlinnie and that TV technology is used regularly for hearings across Scotland. It would save money, greatly reduce unnecessary prisoner movements to and from courts and would also set an example of how to replace road travel with digital technology.

In conclusion the Inspectorate has had a successful year:

I called for new family visit facilities at Aberdeen Prison, these were opened in Autumn 2010 and are proving to be a huge improvement on the inadequate little room used previously.

I called for a new way to avoid 'slopping out' at Peterhead and all prisoners there now have access to hall toilets 24 hours a day.

I have called for major improvements at Cornton Vale and at last there is hope of improvement with the move of 114 female prisoners to Edinburgh Prison and the Commission to investigate female offending should change the way that female offenders are dealt with.

I have demanded improved security at prisons to make prisons safer and most prisons have improved their searching and security regimes.

I have called for improved family contact and also for every prison to have a Family Visitor Centre. The Government has agreed to the principle of this and is working to look at the funding of such centres. Individual prisons are working with community groups to achieve centres locally.

The Progression Review has set out clear recommendations for risk assessed progression of prisoners and these are being implemented in prisons.

Hugh Monro CBE signature

HMChief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland
21 July 2011



HMP Glenochil

Full inspection 26 April-2 May 2010

Good Practice

Listeners are responsible for emptying their request boxes in the halls.

The Governor is involved in the delivery of the induction programme.

During the reception process at Falkirk Sheriff Court prisoners are asked if they need the services of a drug or alcohol support worker.

The 'Glenochil Prisoner Newsletter'.

The Internal Complaints Committee includes a wide range of staff from different functions as panel members.

The Segregation Unit has produced a detailed information booklet for prisoners.

The provision of cleaning services in the Health Centre.

All mental health cases are seen by the Mental Health Team within 72 hours and a triage system is in place to prioritise the most urgent cases who can then be seen on the same day.

The effort which is put into preparing prisoners for Home Detention Curfews, including an information booklet for families, and the attention paid to issues such as addictions, employment and housing.

Links Centre staff liaise with outside agencies to maintain housing tenancies for short-term prisoners.



Prisoners should be comprehensively prepared for progression to Top End and Open Conditions in order to structure their expectations, ensure their understanding of what to expect and thereby optimise their chance of making a successful transition.

The role of Personal Officers should be clarified and appropriate training and support provided.

Arrangements for the appropriate support of visitors to Glenochil should be reviewed.

A review of the reception and exit testing for illegal drugs should be carried out.

Comprehensive risk assessment, risk management and public protection training should be provided for senior managers who are required to chair Multidisciplinary Progression Management Group meetings and to take the final decision on whether a prisoner may be transferred to a national Top End or open conditions.

A review of all of the systems currently in place to manage a prisoner's progression through custody and into the community should be undertaken.

Personal Officers, Lifer Liaison Officers and Lifer Contact Officers should receive proper training and support to enable them to participate to their maximum potential in offender management.

A review should be undertaken of the gap between the demand and the numbers awaiting assessment for the Violence Prevention Programme, with a view to providing guidance to the prison on how the disparity can be addressed.

A national community reintegration strategy should be developed in order to ensure a common approach across prisons and to set minimum requirements for pre-release preparation.

For the Establishment

The time between meals being served, particularly the evening meal and breakfast, should be reviewed.

Steps should be taken to maintain the quality of the food between cooking and serving by minimising the time it sits in the heated trolleys.

Systems should be put in place to allow prisoners arriving in escort vehicles between 15.30 hrs and 18.30 hrs to be admitted to the prison.

The time taken to process prisoners in Reception should be reduced and lunch should be provided when necessary.

Consideration should be given to the creation of full-time Family Contact Officer posts.

A clear staff rotation policy in the Segregation Unit, with an accompanying suite of training programmes to equip staff for their role should introduced.

A review of the process for allocating Lifers and Personal Officers should be undertaken.

Waiting lists for programmes to address offending behaviour should be reduced.


Glenochil is in the final stage of major redevelopment. Conditions in general are good and the basic necessities are met. However, the decoration in some parts of the Halls and the kitchen is already showing signs of deterioration. The standard of food at the points of serving is not as good as it should be.

The prison is safe and levels of violence are low.

Relationships between prisoners and staff are very good.

Prisoners are treated well by escort staff. The conditions in Kirkcaldy Sheriff court are poor. The conditions in Falkirk Sheriff Court are adequate.

The quality of visits is good and the visits room is an excellent facility. However, there is a lack of public transport to the prison which makes visiting the prison difficult for many people, especially those travelling long distances. There is no Visitors Centre.

The complaints procedure is transparent and fair. However, complaint forms cannot be accessed except through staff. Disciplinary procedures work well. The chaplains are very well integrated into the life of the prison.

There is good provision of learning, skills and employability training for those prisoners able to access it. Most vocational and educational programmes are delivered to long-term prisoners. The library service is poor. Insufficient short-term prisoners have access to vocational qualifications. Not enough prisoners are engaged in purposeful activity.

A full range of healthcare services is available in response to need. Services provide continuity with the community. Healthcare, particularly mental health services, is provided to a high standard.

The Integrated Case Management processes work well. There are a number of offending behaviour programmes available, although there are long lists of prisoners referred for assessment and waiting to participate in these programmes. There is a lack of training for staff in a number of areas including risk assessment. Good links with community-based organisations have been made.

HMP Peterhead

Full inspection 14-20 June 2010

Good Practice

The mattress recycling scheme.

The specially-made telephone kiosks.

The zero tolerance stance on violence.

The comprehensive file of translated information available in reception.

Before starting a night duty post all officers new to that area shadow all of the available posts.

The purpose built Control and Restraint training suite.

All escort staff in Banff Sheriff Court and Peterhead Sheriff Court are trained in first aid.

A number of staff and prisoners are trained in basic sign language.

First Line Managers conduct a quality check on the charge and evidence following the completion of disciplinary hearing paperwork.

The chaplains hold monthly meetings with prisoners to involve them in decision making about provision for religious observance.

Gym staff deliver tailored classes to prisoners over the age of 55.

The link between the Health Centre and the gym.

The recycling programme and the statistical analysis for the Recycle Centre.

Sixty per cent of staff are trained in Mental Health First Aid.

Prisoners receive a personal letter explaining the process in advance of ICM case conferences.

Peterhead Management have taken the initiative to invite all MAPPA co-ordinators into the prison for a familiarisation and awareness visit and to strengthen links.


For SPS Headquarters

Alternatives to slopping out should be found.

Consideration should be given to reinstating independent professional Health and Safety audits of all establishments.

Ways to test sex offenders in less secure conditions prior to release should be pursued as a matter of urgency.

Steps should be taken to ensure that prisoners subject to Orders for Lifelong Restriction enter the relevant assessment processes as soon as possible.

For the Scottish Government

A review should take place of the reasons for the large number of sex offenders being recalled to custody.

A review of MAPPA arrangements should take place to ensure that much more action takes place well in advance of the liberation of sex offenders.

For the Establishment

Prisoners should be provided with proper hand cleansing facilities in their cells, and staff should ensure that flasks are kept clean and prisoners informed of hygienic procedures.

Staff involved in preparing prisoners for a move out of Peterhead, or to Peterhead from other establishments, should have a full understanding of the issues involved and prisoners should be comprehensively prepared for transfer.

Medication should be administered in a safe, hygienic and confidential environment.

Other options to engage all sex offenders in Peterhead should be considered to encourage them to address the issues which led to their sex offending.


The conditions in the prison, particularly in almost all of the cells, are among the worst in any prison in Scotland. Cells are small, have little natural light and ventilation and there is no running water. A form of 'slopping out' still exists. Chemical toilets are emptied twice a week by a trained work party of prisoners.

The prison is safe for both prisoners and staff.

Prisoners are treated with respect by prison and escort staff.

Efforts are made by prison staff to help prisoners maintain contact with families and friends, although the location of the prison makes visiting difficult for some. There is no dedicated visits staff group.

Prisoners have very good access to legal entitlements including the Prison Rules and legal text books.

There is a limited range of vocational and educational qualifications available and poor linkages between the two. There is no overall local Learning, Skills and Employability Strategy in place. However, the prison is meeting its targets and prisoners are content with the opportunities available. The prison has introduced an innovative recycling work party and provision of PT is very good.

The Healthcare Team provides a wide range of clinics for prisoners with long-term conditions. Medical cover is good as is the provision of mental health services: the number of staff trained in Mental Health First Aid far exceeds any other establishment.

A number of programmes to address offending behaviour are in place. The prison withdrew the Sex Offender Treatment Programme ( SOTP) in March 2010 and will pilot a new programme 'Good Lives' in July.

Forty-eight prisoners completed SOTP in 2009-10. Although not all prisoners take part in a Sex Offender Treatment Programme before being released back into the community, they have opportunities to participate in other offending behaviour programmes.

Very few prisoners are tested in less secure conditions prior to release.

HMP Addiewell

Full inspection 22-30 November 2010

Good Practice

The electronic kiosk system.

The investment in technology, front end searching procedures and comprehensive searching policies and practice to ensure the prison is safe and secure.

All prisoners arriving at Addiewell from court or from another prison receive a hot meal.

Staff in reception take great care over prisoners who do not speak English, vulnerable prisoners and prisoners with health issues.

The Connexions Workers.

The operation of the First Night in Custody Centre.

The arrangements for non-English speaking prisoners during the induction process.

All cells are designed to a 'safer cell' standard.

All new recruits receive training in child protection.

The prison is very proactive in routinely providing training for staff with regard to taking up new posts and on promotion.

All of the initiatives taken to ensure that good family contact is encouraged and maintained.

Two solicitors from the Scottish Legal Aid Board hold surgeries in the prison twice a month to help prisoners with civil cases.

The dentist operates the 'healthy mouth' programme.

Nursing staff can administer medications through Patient Group Directions.

The approach taken to involve families in Integrated Case Management case conferences.

A quarterly meeting takes place between the prison and Lanarkshire Social Work Department regarding the management of the Home Detention Curfew process.

The prison worked with West Lothian Council
to develop a bus timetable to suit prison visiting times.


For SPS Headquarters

Drug and alcohol testing should be introduced for staff in SPS prisons.

Standards of security and technical systems to address smuggling similar to those in Addiewell should be introduced to all closed establishments.

For the Establishment

The prison should examine the reasons for the high number of prisoner-on-staff assaults.

ACT2Care refresher training should be provided
to all staff.

The prison should collaborate with partner agencies to provide a Visitors Centre.

Ways to engage more prisoners in constructive activities should be found.

Healthcare records should be properly maintained.

A more consistent service should be provided by the doctors.

An Infection Control Policy should be introduced.

For the Scottish Court Service

CCTV should be fitted to all court cells in Hamilton Sheriff Court and Airdrie Sheriff Court.


Addiewell has now been open for two years. The conditions are very good and the buildings have been well maintained. All cells are spacious and bright and have a screened toilet and shower.

Levels of violence are high, particularly the number of minor assaults on staff. The prison operates the SPS anti-suicide strategy and this is well managed. Front end security arrangements, including biometric identification of visitors and staff, as well as prisoners in the visits room, are very impressive. Staff are searched and randomly drug and alcohol tested. This contributes to safety.

Prisoners are treated well by staff, particularly as staff become more experienced. Prisoners are also treated well by escort staff.

Every effort is made to maintain contact between prisoners and their families and to involve families in matters which affect prisoners at critical times.

Prisoners' entitlements are accorded them at all times.

There is good access to Learning Skills and Employability opportunities and good assessment and support for prisoners with literacy needs. The library and the academy provide positive learning environments. There is further scope to develop opportunities for long-term prisoners both in relation to work and vocational activities. There is also scope to further develop the programme of evening and weekend out-of-cell activities.

The provision of healthcare is basic and not delivered to the same standard as in the community. Access to healthcare services by prisoners has been erratic and record keeping is poor. There is no addictions through care in place.

Integrated Case Management is operating to a good standard. There are a number of offending behaviour programmes available, some of which have been developed by Addiewell. Excellent links have been developed with community-based organisations with a view to helping prisoners reintegrate back into the community on release and reduce the risk of reoffending.

HMP and YOI Cornton Vale

Follow Up inspection 1-4 February 2011

Setting the Scene

Cornton Vale, Scotland's national facility for female prisoners, was inspected in September 2009 and the report of that inspection was published in January 2010. The report contained an unusually high number of recommendations and points for action. It was an unfavourable report which required timely action by both SPSHQ and the Governor of Cornton Vale to remedy some serious shortcomings. The establishment was not providing the care and attention that Scotland's vulnerable women prisoners needed: nor was there sufficient purposeful activity and rehabilitative work available for the rest of the population. Most of all, Cornton Vale required good and strong strategic and local leadership to change the culture of the prison, to improve staff training and to improve the treatment of prisoners.

A follow-up inspection designed to measure progress took place in February 2011.



That the SPS review the Design Capacity for Cornton Vale to a more realistic level.

That the population is reduced to no more than 300 as soon as is practicably possible.

That options for re-housing female prisoners at other prisons is examined as a temporary option.

Treatment and Conditions

That insufficient progress has been made to improve conditions.

That the treatment of prisoners must be enhanced by stronger leadership and Cornton Vale-specific training.

That the treatment of women travelling to distant courts should be improved and that video court links for court hearings should become commonplace.

Mental Health Issues

That the regime for vulnerable women with mental health issues must improve.

That, until a proper Separation and Care Unit can be provided, staff dealing with prisoners in the 'back cells' of Ross House must be appropriately trained
to do so.

That a properly coordinated process is put in place
to ensure that all women held out of association for whatever reason, have comprehensive multi-disciplinary care plans, which are fully implemented.

Access to Activities

That the way that the regime at Cornton Vale is managed must be fundamentally reviewed.

That there must be a determination greatly to improve access to activities, particularly for short- term prisoners and those on remand.

Strategic Priority

That SPSHQ, supported by the Government, must now raise the strategic priority of Cornton Vale to the highest level.

The SPS must now take positive, determined and timely action to address the establishment's severe shortcomings.

That overcrowding is particularly damaging for the female prisoner population and must be addressed urgently in discussions between the Scottish Government, the Judiciary and the SPS.

Other Report

Review of the Arrangements for Progressing Prisoners from Closed to Open Conditions

August - November 2010

In December 2009 the Cabinet Secretary for Justice asked Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons to carry out an independent review of the arrangements for transferring prisoners from closed to open conditions following the absconding of prisoners Robert Foye and Brian Martin from HMP Castle Huntly in 2007 and 2009. It also followed a review by Professor Alec Spencer.

We found that significant advances have been made in prisoner progression and risk assessment processes since Foye and Martin, but it is impossible to eradicate risk completely when reintegrating prisoners back into communities from open prisons and National Top End facilities.

The rate of absconding from the open estate has reduced from 71 or 24% of the average population in 2004-2005, to six or 2.3% of the average population in 2010-2011.

It is also clear that no matter how well developed and sophisticated the Scottish Prison Service's ( SPS) risk assessment processes become, risk assessment itself is a fallible undertaking.

The report recommends that the SPS Board should:

  • Take formal responsibility and ownership of the progression system;
  • Review progression processes and training with a view to producing a simplified and improved system;
  • Review how better to align prisoners' high priority needs and their existing programme and intervention provision;
  • Produce a National Sex Offender Strategy;
  • Publish a community reintegration strategy for the guidance of prison Governors and Directors;
  • Publish a risk management and progression manual for practitioners; and
  • Review the system used to determine the level of security applied to individual prisoners.

This review confirms that the individual components which make up the 'progression system' are themselves appropriate and relevant, however the interrelationship between them has become unclear and a comprehensive review needs to be undertaken to eradicate duplication and ensure a more coherent approach.


Inspections and Other Reports

Inspections for the year were completed as follows.

Full Inspections

HMP Glenochil 26 April-2 May 2010
HMP Peterhead 14-20 June 2010
HMP Addiewell 22-30 November 2010

Follow Up Inspection

HMP& YOI Cornton Vale 1-4 February 2011

Other Report

Review of the Arrangements for Progressing Prisoners from Closed to Open Conditions August-November 2010

Submission to the Scottish Parliament

The 2009-2010 Annual Report was laid before the Scottish Parliament on 23 September 2010.


March 2011
HM Chief Inspector Brigadier Hugh Monro (F/T)
Deputy Chief Inspector Kate Donegan (F/T)
Assistant Chief Inspector Dr David McAllister (F/T)
Inspector Mick Armstrong (F/T)
Personal Secretary Janet Reid (F/T)

A list of Specialist and Associate Inspectors for the year is provided below.

HMP Glenochil

Dawn Ashworth Associate Inspector
Carol Stewart Associate Healthcare Inspector
Andrew Brawley Education Adviser
John Bowditch Education Adviser
Roddy Henry Education Adviser

HMP Peterhead

Adam Quin Associate Inspector
Lesley McDowall Associate Healthcare Inspector
Peter Connelly Education Adviser
Peter McNaughton Education Adviser

HMP Addiewell

Adrian Clark Associate Inspector
Sandra Hands Associate Healthcare Inspector
Stewart Maxwell Education Adviser
Donnie MacLeod Education Adviser
Sheila Brown Education Adviser

HMP & YOI Cornton Vale

Dawn Ashworth Associate Inspector
Frank Gibbons Associate Healthcare Inspector
Peter Connelly Education Adviser
Karen Corbett Education Adviser

Review of the Arrangements for Progressing Prisoners from Closed to Open Conditions

Craig Renton Associate Inspector
Ralph Henderson Associate Inspector
Social Work Inspection Agency Social Work Adviser


The Inspectorate's costs for the year were as follows:
Staff costs £375,724
Subsistence and motor mileage £18,909
Printing and Binding £10,599
Public Relations £2,657
UK Travel £1,699
Hospitality £538
Overseas Travel £0
External Consultancy £0
Other running costs £4,740
Total £414,866

*No payments in excess of £25,000 were made.
*No employees earned in excess of £150,000.


Recent reports can be found on our website


Young Offender Re-conviction rates 07/08:
Males Previous convictions: None, re-conviction rate 42%; One or two: 62%; up to ten: 80%;
Females Previous convictions: None, 30%; one or two: 62%; up to ten: 70%.

The report recommends an immediate reduction of the prison design capacity from 375 to below 300. Since the report has been published I welcome the news that the design capacity at Cornton Vale has been greatly reduced to 309 and also that the SPS intend to send 114 female prisoners to Edinburgh Prison.

Review of the Arrangements for Progressing Prisoners from Closed to Open Conditions.