HMIPS Remote Monitoring Framework and Liaison Visits Framework

Introduction by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons to the HMIPS Remote Monitoring Framework and Liaison Visits Framework

As a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic emergency situation, HMIPS temporarily suspended all prison, Court Custody Unit (CCU), and prisoner transport inspections, along with all monitoring services carried out by Independent Prison Monitor volunteers.  

However, HMIPS’ statutory obligations continue during this emergency and we are committed, where possible and most importantly safely, to undertake visits to prison or CCU establishments and produce a report of our findings. 

To allow us to fulfil our statutory duty, HMIPS has developed an adapted methodology to inspection and monitoring, resulting in a Remote Monitoring Framework and Liaison Visits Framework.  This will enable us to continue to provide assurance to the Cabinet Secretary for Justice and to the UK National Preventative Mechanism  about the conditions and treatment of prisoners in these exceptional circumstances.

Our adapted methodology focuses on the key human rights issues contained in our Standards for Inspecting and Monitoring Prisons in Scotland, which are followed during our normal inspection process. 

A first version of HMIPS Monitoring and Liaison Visits Frameworks are below.  They underwent proof of concept testing commencing 27 April 2020, and will be subject to continuous improvement and be formally reviewed in July 2020.  The Frameworks will be in place until HMIPS can resume normal business.

We acknowledge that these are extremely difficult times for prisons and other establishments, and our guiding principle of ‘do no harm’ will remain.  We will therefore place an emphasis on identifying and sharing good practice in our reports.

Any urgent issues identified during the visits will be immediately escalated to the Governor-in-Charge.

HMIPS have also developed a Health and Safety Policy, drawn from guidance from Health Protection Scotland, NHS Inform and the World Health Organisation, to inform our staff of the correct processes to follow to keep themselves and others safe.

Wendy Sinclair-Gieben
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland