HM Inspectorate of Prisons: HMP Shotts

Prison - Return Visit Inspection Report

Executive Summary




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1.1 The visit to HMP Shotts was made as part of a programme to visit every prison each year in which a full inspection is not being made. In the course of such visits the purpose is to follow up points of note from previous inspections, to examine any significant changes, and to explore issues arising from the establishment's own assessment of itself. It should not be seen as an attempt to inspect the whole life of the establishment.

1.2 The Inspection Team comprised:

Andrew McLellan


Rod MacCowan


David McAllister


David Abernethy



January 2005


2.1 The report of the full inspection in 2003 began On different levels Shotts is in a time of transition. In the last year the use of different parts of the prison has changed considerably. One year later this report suggests that these changes have been managed successfully: a year of transition has been followed by a year of consolidation: the description used by members of the Visiting Committee was "settled".

2.2 Perhaps the most important change was the relocating of the National Induction Centre to the former 'A' Hall. The extra space has made it possible for more prisoners who are serving long sentences to have the opportunity for the preparation for many years in prison which the NIC provides. It has also allowed the prison to move away from the difficult culture, a culture of low expectations, which pervaded 'A' Hall in the past. The fears that 'B' Hall would simply become what 'A' Hall was have largely not been realised. The use of methadone and other addiction interventions may have contributed to this.

2.3 A year ago Kerr House was a new facility providing an opportunity for progression within Shotts for low-supervision prisoners. It is now settled and well organised and the prisoners who live there find it a better environment. Plans are in place for some needed refurbishment.

2.4 A number of the Recommendations and Points of Note raised in last year's report have been achieved; but an exception is in connection with food. It is true that some progress has been made with the introduction of new serving methods which mean that food is usually hotter than before. But no progress at all has been made in increasing the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables included in prisoners' meals. The report indicates that an attempt was made: but catering staff said that they found it impossible to increase the number of pieces of fresh fruit from two to three per week and still remain within the budget of £1.57 per prisoner per day.

2.5 The closure of a Vocational Training course in hairdressing may seem a small matter. Last year's report, however, heralded a move within Shotts to put programmes and education and vocational training in a more central place; and commented this may be a very important change. It is disappointing that the opportunity in hairdressing has been discontinued. Equally disappointing is the reduction of services for visitors. It used to be that Shotts had an outstanding system of Family Contact Development Officers: the last two years have seen a steady reduction of this service. A crèche for the children of prisoners during visit time is being withdrawn. For all prisoners the experience of visits is important: for long-term prisoners and for their families it may be vital. Reductions in training opportunities and in the quality of the experience of visits are not likely to improve the opportunities offered to prisoners for rehabilitation. In the course of the inspection the Governor, representatives of the POA(S) and the Visiting Committee all attributed these reductions to "the pressure for savings".


Three Recommendations and thirty eight Points of Note were made in the Full Inspection of 18 November 2003. Progress made on these is as follows.




Party achieved:


Not achieved:


Points of Note



Partly achieved:


Not achieved:




10.1 The toilets in cells should be screened off (paragraphs 2.4 and 2.8).

Not achieved. Prisoners in 'B', 'C' and 'D' Halls and in the NIC eat and sleep in a cell with an unscreened toilet in view.

10.2 A review of the provision of nurse led clinics for patients with ongoing health problems should be considered (paragraph 6.16).

Achieved. A number of clinics are now in place.

10.3 Steps should be taken to ensure that the previously commended work of the Family Contact Development Officers is reintroduced and that their role is recognised as an integral part of the work of the prison (paragraph 7.31).

Partly achieved. Previously, there was a dedicated FCDO from the Residential complement in the Visit Room during the peak visit period. This post was discontinued. During the past year, six FCDOs have been identified. The role, filled by operational staff, is in addition to other duties which include security at visits. A further recognition of the role is that a First Line Manager now has responsibility for the FCDO scheme.


11.1 Consideration should be given to creating a cell decorating work party (paragraph 2.4).

Partly achieved. The prison has considered the options and concluded that a prisoner cell decorating party was not the appropriate way to address the issue. The prison Estates Department has now started a cell painting programme.

11.2 Management should consider fitting telephones in the halls with covers to ensure a level of privacy (paragraph 2.6).


11.3 The emergency alarm in the disabled cell in 'C' hall should have a flex long enough to reach the bed and if possible the cell door widened or a new wheelchair obtained to facilitate access (paragraph 2.7).


11.4 Consideration should be given to allowing prisoners in the National Induction Centre freer movement within the Unit during periods of recreation (paragraph 2.9).

Achieved. Consideration has been given and the decision taken not to allow NIC prisoners freer movement. Management concluded that the present arrangements encourage full participation in the regime including recreation.

11.5 The recreation area in Kerr House needs to be refurbished or redecorated (paragraph 2.16).

Partly achieved. A refurbishment plan for Kerr House, including the redecoration and refitting of the recreation room has been agreed and a business case approved. Prisoners were involved in the process. Work will start early in 2005.

11.6 A strategy of promoting Kerr House to other long-term prisons should be developed (paragraph 2.18).

Achieved. A communications plan has been developed. Information packs have been sent to all sending establishments and liaison officers identified. Managers visited other establishments to promote Kerr House and staff are also able to do the same. Admission data now indicates that Kerr House is receiving prisoners from all appropriate locations.

11.7 More regime opportunities should be made available to protection prisoners (paragraph 3.13).

Achieved. The large textiles shop has closed and a new contract producing beds is in place, with 60 prisoners identified to participate. There is also a smaller textiles shop as well as spray painting, education and PE available. The difficulties of integrating protection prisoners have been managed as well as could be expected.

11.8 The update of the night patrol orders should be completed as a matter of urgency (paragraph 3.19).

Achieved. A new set of night shift instructions was published in September 2004. They are comprehensive and informative.

11.9 SPS should examine ways of getting low supervision life sentence prisoners into regimes more suited to their security status (paragraph 3.20).

Not achieved. SPS policy restricts the movement of life sentence prisoners until four years prior to their Parole Qualifying Date. There are also only a limited number of places in Top Ends and Open prisons. At time of inspection there was a waiting list of 17 for Kerr House.

11.10 Consideration should be given to the need for a relapse programme for those prisoners receiving methadone (paragraph 4.4).

Achieved. The "SMART Recovery Programme" started during the week of inspection.

11.11 The management of the waiting list for methadone needs to be addressed (paragraph 4.4).

Achieved. There is now no waiting list for prisoners assessed as requiring methadone.

11.12 The prison needs to consider very carefully who is placed on short-term methadone prescription because of the difficulty in finishing the programme (paragraph 4.5).

Achieved. The prison has considered this issue, and concluded that short-term methadone is inappropriate for most prisoners. During the year, one prisoner was placed on short-term methadone prescription.

11.13 Routine use of reception cubicles should be discontinued and the existing communal rooms brought up to a reasonable standard (paragraph 5.3).

Not achieved. Although one communal room has been redecorated the conditions in it are still very bad. It has six chairs and one table with no information or other equipment. The room was being used for the storage of property boxes, rather than as part of the reception process. Three prisoners in reception were being held in individual cubicles prior to admission.

11.14 Some redesign of the reception area would allow a more organised flow to take place (paragraph 5.4).

Not achieved. A business case for a redevelopment of this area was submitted to SPS in February 2004. The prison was still waiting for a response at the time of inspection.

11.15 During reception, valuable property should be opened and checked in the presence of the prisoner (paragraph 5.5).


11.16 Delays in processing property handed in at visits at weekends for prisoners in reception should be addressed (paragraph 5.7).

Achieved. A monitoring checklist, audited by the Operations Manager is in place. The new system is very thorough.

11.17 The SPS should review the wages policy to make sure that work parties like catering are attractive to prisoners (paragraph 5.12).

Not achieved. The evidence provided by staff and prisoners was that attracting prisoners to work in the kitchen remains difficult. The selection procedure is rigorous, and prisoners are expected to work 6-7 days per week. The wages still do not compare favourably with some other work parties.

11.18 A simpler system of calculating production bonuses for prisoners should be adopted (paragraph 5.13).

Achieved. The bonus scheme in the new bed workshop is much simpler. The bonus scheme in the textiles party has also been simplified.

11.19 A formal pre-release initiative is required for prisoners who will be liberated from Shotts (paragraph 5.22).

Not achieved. Management consider that prisoners due for liberation should be dealt with on an individual basis. A checklist has been introduced to ensure that key areas are dealt with systematically. The number of eligible prisoners per month taking up the individual response ranged from 10% - 28% over the reporting year to date.

11.20 In assessing needs and appropriate interventions, consideration needs to be given to the timing of programmes and level of support provided between completion of a programme and movement from the prison (paragraph 5.24).

Achieved. The programmes team take into account the prisoner's sentence, date of sentence, earliest date of liberation and appropriate programme. The Governor has provided a statement of assurance that in normal circumstances prisoners will not be transferred while attending a programme.

11.21 If the medical consulting rooms in the NIC and 'B', 'C' and 'D' halls are to continue to be used for this purpose they need to be kept clean, redecorated and have the furniture upgraded (paragraph 6.4).

Achieved. The rooms have been redecorated, they were clean and the furniture in place was fit for purpose. The rooms are also now used only for nurse triage.

11.22 Consideration should be given to the appointment of a pharmacist assistant (paragraph 6.23).

Achieved. A pharmacy assistant is now in post (30 hours per week).

11.23 A third party presence at doctor/patient consultations, and a lack of clarity about the patient's consent to this, should be addressed (paragraph 6.31).

Partly achieved. A uniformed member of staff is no longer present at doctor/patient consultation. A nurse is present to provide continuity of care. The patient is not routinely asked if he consents to this arrangement.

11.24 In a few instances, prisoners were unable to access education because of non-release from work parties and this should be addressed as a matter of priority (paragraph 7.4).

Achieved. All prisoners are allowed access to at least two education sessions per week.

11.25 All prisoners should have access to appropriate learning opportunities without financial penalty (paragraph 7.5).

Achieved. No penalty is imposed on prisoner's basic wages. However, some enhanced prisoners can still lose their bonus if they attend education classes.

11.26 Prisoners with literacy and numeracy difficulties need greater support than current resources permit (paragraph 7.12).

Achieved. A peer support and tutoring group is now in place. Prisoners are trained to carry out the tutoring and do this tutoring on a one-to-one basis.

11.27 The prison should continue to develop a more holistic approach to delivering the full range of prisoner learning activities and ensure that the role of education is valued and promoted more actively (paragraph 7.12).

Achieved. A wide range of education opportunities are in place. Education staff now 'tour' the halls promoting the learning centre. Qualifications are also available in the workshops to encourage take up of learning opportunities.

11.28 Links between the learning centre and the library need to be enhanced (paragraph 7.16).

Achieved. The reference section of the library is located in the learning centre.

11.29 SPS should explore best practice in community libraries, especially those that now include learning centres, to improve the contribution of the library to prisoner education in Shotts (paragraph 7.16).

Partly achieved. The prison has discussed this issue with the education contractor, Motherwell College.

11.30 The facilities for fitness in 'B', 'C' and 'D' halls should be upgraded (paragraph 7.32).

Partly achieved. There are no fitness rooms in 'B' and 'D' Hall. The fitness room in 'C' Hall contains a variety of wall mounted and free standing exercise equipment. Some of the equipment is broken and should be removed.

11.31 PE staff should continue with their plans to develop the PE programme by offering certificated courses which prepare prisoners with improved opportunities on release (paragraph 7.36).

Achieved. A new gymnasium programme is being developed; courses are on offer and one additional PE instructor is in post.

11.32 The arrangement for social work interviews do not always guarantee confidentiality and should be examined (paragraph 7.44).

Partly achieved. Interview space is now available in the Links Centre.

11.33 The IT system in the Social Work Unit is inadequate and needs to be reviewed (paragraph 7.45).

Achieved. A business case for six additional SPIN computers has been approved. The computers were not in place at the time of inspection.

11.34 If the programmes room in 'B' hall is to continue being used for that purpose it will require new desks and redecoration (paragraph 7.54).

Achieved. Programmes no longer take place in this room. It was empty at time of inspection and it is proposed to turn it into a staff office.

11.35 The leaflet "Programmes: The Facts!" needs to be updated (paragraph 7.61).


11.36 Muslim prisoners should be able to meet regularly for Friday prayers (paragraph 7.67).


11.37 More fresh fruit should be available at meal times (paragraph 8.11).

Not achieved. Prisoners receive two or three pieces of fruit per week. It seems to be impossible within the budget for this to change: an attempt made in response to last year's report failed because the costs were too high. The budget allocation for food for a prisoner in every SPS prison is £1.57 per day. This has not changed for the last eight years.

11.38 The quality of the food at point of service needs to be improved (paragraph 8.11).

Partly achieved. The means of serving food has been changed. Pantries in the halls are used for serving. This makes it possible for food to be hotter when it is served; and it makes better portion control possible. However, food, especially food contained in individual containers, and chips, still deteriorates when held for any length of time in heated trolleys. Last year's report referred to the concern of the catering manager about the wages of prisoners working in the kitchen, which he believed had an effect on the quality of food produced: these wages have not been increased.



4.1 The laundry equipment previously located in the halls has been removed. All prison and personal clothing, as well as bedding and other items are now sent to the main prison laundry. A rota system has been formulated and communicated to prisoners.

4.2 The new system started in May 2004, and it is apparent that many prisoners do not have confidence in it. They are wary of sending personal items for fear of theft or damage. Many prisoners are doing their laundry in the bath in their section or in their cell sink. Sometimes when laundry bags are sent to the laundry they are overfilled and this leads to items not being washed or dried properly. The prison should monitor the system very closely and decide if it is going to meet the needs of prisoners. It is not meeting those needs at present.

Violence Prevention Programme

4.3 Two Violence Prevention Programmes have been run in the past year. Eighteen prisoners have completed the programme (from the twenty who started). The course is very intensive in terms of staff and prisoner time and is still considered to be a pilot. The data on pre and post test psychometrics, analysed to date, indicate positive outcomes.


4.4 Shotts has introduced the use of Subutex on a pilot basis (six prisoners have started the programme). Subutex is used in the community as a detoxification rather than maintenance drug. It must be viewed by prisoners as a credible alternative to methadone. Its effectiveness will be evaluated, although initial thoughts from health staff were that it had been an effective initiative.


4.5 Methadone is now dispensed in the halls rather than in the health centre. This has freed up time and space in the health centre and helped bring waiting times for the doctor and dentist down. One fifth of the prison's population is now linked into drug support as part of the overall drug strategy. The use of methadone and other addiction interventions have had a marked impact on the stability of the establishment, and seem to be appreciated by both staff and prisoners.

Prisoner Health Care Focus Groups

4.6 A prisoner Health Care Focus Group has been introduced in each hall. The clinical manager and two prisoners in each hall are involved. The groups discuss issues of concern and are a good way of communicating key health issues with prisoners.

Blood Borne Virus Nurse

4.7 A Blood Borne Virus Nurse post has been introduced. This is the only such post in the SPS.

The 'Jaily Echo'

4.8 The 'Jaily Echo' is a magazine for prisoners in Shotts produced by prisoners in Shotts. Two editions have been published, and a third was nearly ready for publication at time of the inspection. The initiative came from the Learning Centre and has grown most quickly in the NIC: but there are plans to extend the operation across the whole prison. Two substantial pieces in the second edition dealt with questions about the telephone system, in which the Governor replied to concerns, and with food business, where the catering manager was interviewed. There is some light-hearted material as well, a Christmas Card competition from the chaplains, and a letters page. Issues of editorial control have so far produced no difficulties. Initial reactions from prisoners seem to be quite positive.