Report by the council of Europe Committee for the prevention of torture on treatment of prisoners

HMIPS today responded to a report by the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) which identifies concerns in the treatment and conditions of prisoners in Scotland.

It follows a visit by the committee to prisons and police custody premises in Scotland in October 2018.

Wendy Sinclair-Gieben, Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland said:

“We have raised our concerns with the Scottish Government about the ageing and inadequate prison accommodation and the increasing pressure placed on Scottish Prison Service management, staff and prisoners from overcrowding.  We are very clear that humanity and decency are being compromised by the antiquated Victorian prisons.  We have recently inspected HMP Barlinnie and our report, when published, will echo some of the concerns raised in the CPT report.

We take very seriously the concerns raised in the CPT report about the treatment and conditions for mentally unwell female prisoners.  We have re-prioritised our 2020 inspection programme to bring forward a full inspection of HMP YOI Cornton Vale with our partners in Healthcare Improvement Scotland and the Scottish Human Rights Commission.

The introduction of novel psychoactive substances has been a game changer in incidents of harm across Europe and other jurisdictions.  Despite this, HMIPS continue to be impressed, in our inspections, by the resilience, commitment and professionalism of the SPS and NHS staff in tackling these extreme challenges and in maintaining good staff/prisoners relationships and calm good order.

We have called on the Scottish Government to provide enhanced funding for the Scottish Prison Service to tackle these issues and in particular address the ageing infrastructure.

HMIPS will continue to monitor conditions and treatment in all Scottish prisons on a weekly basis through our independent prison monitoring scheme.

HMIPS is a member of the National Preventative Mechanism (NPM), a network of 21 independent monitoring bodies in the UK whose role is to prevent ill-treatment in detention.  The NPM’s response to the CPT report is here.