Report on HMP & YOI Cornton Vale

Wednesday, 18 January 2017



HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland, David Strang, today launches his report of a review inspection of HMP & YOI Cornton Vale.

This inspection was carried out in October 2016 to review the impact of the transfer of over 100 women from HMP & YOI Cornton Vale to HMP & YOI Polmont in August 2016.

Inspectors found that good progress had been made in adjusting to the new arrangements.  In particular all women now had unrestricted access to toilet facilities, which had not been the situation a year ago.  The reduction in the number of women allowed more time for staff to work constructively with the women to make the most of their time in custody.

For most women, their access to healthcare had improved across a range of services, particularly in relation to mental health and addiction services.  Support for the most vulnerable women in custody continues to be a challenge, requiring specialist support and care.  There was still a need for healthcare and prison staff to coordinate their activities to ensure that the women were able to access appropriate services.

The plans for the future of women in custody in Scotland project a total population of 230 places (80 in the national facility at HMP & YOI Cornton Vale, 50 in HMP & YOI Grampian and 100 in five Community Custody Units).  This will require a significant reduction in the overall number of women held in custody, which currently sits at over 300.  There has been a welcome reduction in the number of women in prison over the last three years; it is clear that there will need to be sustained efforts to ensure that this downward trend continues.

David Strang said, “I am encouraged by the changes we found at HMP & YOI Cornton Vale.  There are still challenges for staff who are caring for some of the most vulnerable women in Scotland.  When women return to the community after serving their sentence, it is vital that the right support is in place to encourage a successful reintegration into the community.”