HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland: Annual Report 2016-2017

Region 1

HMP Glenochil

IPM Findings
Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) and Orderly Room Hearings: Both ICC hearings and Orderly Room hearings were found to be undertaken in a fair and consistent manner.

Healthcare: Health complaints (made by prisoners to IPMs) mostly centred around access to medication. IPMs found that the management of prisoners’ medication was carried out appropriately.

Purposeful Activity: Purposeful activity was observed to be well attended, however IPMs were informed that there was capacity for more prisoners to take part, particularly from the mainstream prisoner population. A small number of prisoners were observed in some workshops not appearing to be engaging in the activities available.

Reception: IPMs found that the prison’s reception area was clean, well-kept and efficiently run by helpful, friendly staff. IPMs noted that this was a positive environment for new arrivals to the prison. 

Dignity and respect: Good professional working relationships between Personal Officers and prisoners were evident. Prison Officers were observed discussing matters with prisoners in a discreet way. One terminally ill prisoner praised the care he received from staff. However in some cases IPMs observed officers ‘shouting down the halls’ for prisoners by name and stating the nature of the appointment. IPMs felt this practice did not allow prisoners appropriate dignity and privacy.

Positive changes
Healthcare: The prison is planning to introduce ‘social prescribing’, which aims to reduce reliability on prescription medication in favour of other holistic methods of improving well-being.

Issues IPMs will continue to look at
Purposeful Activity: The prison had initially instigated an ‘engagement index’ project aimed at improving engagement in purposeful activity. IPMs were informed however that this work has been superseded by a national approach to tackling the issue across the prison estate. We will continue to seek progress on the roll-out and effectiveness of this project.

Dignity and Respect: We will continue to monitor interactions between prisoners and staff throughout the prison, with a focus on how officers ensure prisoners’ privacy and dignity.

HMP & YOI Grampian

IPM Findings
Healthcare: NHS services were seen to be being delivered to an acceptable level, with staff appearing approachable and proactive with prisoners. However issues with staffing levels were noted. 

Community Integration Unit (CIU): The Aberlour CIU appears to be an excellent facility. Prisoners are keen to be able to make use of it, but reported being unsure about how to progress to this. There was clear documentation explaining the application process, however this information could be more proactively promoted.

Progression: The process and rationale for prioritisation of places on programmes to address offending behaviour was poorly understood by long-term prisoners. While in discussion with the prison, IPMs felt that while the policy for allocation was being applied fairly, it should be more clearly explained to prisoners.

Access to programmes for women: Some women at HMP & YOI Grampian were required to be temporarily transferred to HMP & YOI Cornton Vale to access the Female Offending Behaviour programme as part of their rehabilitation. This often meant women were situated far from their families, affecting visits. 

Laundry process: There were a number of reported instances of prisoners’ clothing going missing during the laundry process, and IPMs found that it often took some time for items to be located and returned.

Prisoner wages and personal cash: IPMs found that the rules around prisoner wages and prisoner personal cash (PPC) should be better explained to prisoners. 

Positive changes
Access to programmes for women: The Female Offending Behaviour programme is now being provided at HMP & YOI Grampian, removing the need for women to be re-located to HMP & YOI Cornton Vale and ensuring women stay close to their families where possible. 

Laundry process: Prison staff have worked with prisoners to improve the laundry process in order to address the issue of laundry going missing. Instances of missing laundry reported to IPMs has significantly reduced.

Issues IPMs will continue to look at
Healthcare: IPMs will continue to monitor the impact of NHS staffing shortages.

Communication: IPMs will promote the need for improved, proactive communication with prisoners, particularly around key issues such as access to the the CIU, prioritisation of places on programmes, and rules around the use of wages and personal cash.

HMP Inverness

IPM Findings
Healthcare: Prisoners raised a number of complaints relating to the dispensing of medication. However IPMs spoke with NHS staff and were of the opinion that medication was dispensed fairly, and in line with local NHS policy. IPMs also learned that some prisoners leaving the prison early in the morning to go to court (specifically Wick and Elgin courts) were not able to receive prescribed medication as the healthcare service is not staffed at that time. 

Visits: Prisoners were concerned about access to and use of the Visit Room by different categories of prisoner. IPMs have spoken with prisoners using the Visit Room, as well as speaking to staff about how it is operated, and are satisfied that it is being managed safely and fairly for different prisoner categories.

Purposeful Activity: IPMs have found that while opportunities for prisoners to engage in purposeful activity are evident, the range of such opportunities could be improved. Staff at the prison have explained that the size and age of the prison hinders this possibility.

Throughcare: IPMs have noted that there appeared to be insufficient training for prisoners on the subject of applying for and maintaining access to Universal Credit and other benefits, that may help them when returning to the community. 

Positive changes
Visits: HMP Inverness is working in consultation with prisoners to explore options for reviewing visit availability, to consider different visit sessions for different prisoner groups.

Issues IPMs will continue to look at
Healthcare: IPMs have been told that the issue of medication for prisoners leaving the prison early to go to court is being addressed at a national level by NHS, SPS and G4S. Locally, staff in HMP Inverness are monitoring the situation and are keeping the IPMs updated, however progress appears to be slow.

Purposeful Activity: IPMs understand that the issue of a lack of purposeful activity opportunities will be addressed in the long-term via the design of the proposed new HMP Highland. 

Throughcare: IPMs will continue to monitor whether prisoners receive adequate training and support in relation to applying for and maintaining access to Universal Credit and other benefits.

HMP Open Estate

IPM Findings
Home Leave: The availability of temporary accommodation in some locations across Scotland was reduced (by the providers), meaning that home leave opportunities were shorter for some prisoners, potentially adversely affecting their eligibility for parole.

Population Size and Purposeful Activity: IPMs note that HMP Open Estate is operating below capacity. This raises concerns about best use of opportunities to support progression and transitions to the community, and it also has a number of implications for prison management, particularly in terms of the provision of purposeful activity. IPMs found that staff work hard to provide work opportunities for prisoners, and prisoners engage with such opportunities, both within the establishment and at externally provided work placements. However, small population size limits the provision of work parties that require a certain number of prisoners in order to function effectively. 

Substance Misuse: IPMs noted evidence showing that a high proportion of returns to closed conditions related to substance misuse. This contributed to the low numbers of prisoners at HMP Open Estate. 

Positive changes
Home Leave: Staff proactively engaged with local authorities and third sector accommodation providers to address the concerns around home leave in temporary accommodation. Availability has since increased and home leave opportunity has improved.

Substance Misuse: The establishment is looking at improving the admissions process to better support new admissions for a longer period of time. It is hoped that this will create more stability and reduce the number of prisoners returning to closed conditions. In support of this, a relapse prevention strategy is being developed by SPS and NHS staff, to support prisoners with substance misuse issues. 

Issues IPMs will continue to look at
Substance Misuse: IPMs will continue to monitor the impact that substance misuse is having on the population, and the work underway to tackle the issue.

Purposeful Activity: IPMs will continue to monitor the effectiveness of the new admissions unit in increasing the numbers at HMP Open Estate, and whether this has a positive impact on the provision of work parties.

HMP Perth

IPM Findings
Purposeful Activity: Participation in a wide range of purposeful activity was evident, with high levels of attendance at workshops, education services, gym and so on. However, there appeared to be less opportunity for some prisoner groups (for example protection prisoners and untried prisoners).

Healthcare: IPMs found that healthcare provision was adequate. A number of positive initiatives aimed at supporting and improving prisoners’ mental health were noted. However, more could have been done to ensure prisoners better understood healthcare related decisions and were aware of appointments that had been made for them.

Personal safety: Some prisoners reported to IPMs that they were being bullied or pressured by other prisoners for their medication. SPS and NHS staff are working to identify how best to prevent this, and a number of options are being explored.

Family relationships: The prison has taken steps to maintain and improve the relationships between prisoners and family members, which can prove to be a strong support for prisoners transitioning back in to the community. One such initiative, in partnership with local authority education services, made it possible for school children to visit their parent at HMP Perth on a Friday afternoon to do homework and other learning together.

Positive changes
Purposeful Activity: The prison undertook a review of the various prison regimes, and changes aimed at improving opportunities (such as purposeful activity) for prisoners are now in operation.

Healthcare: NHS Tayside implemented some improvements to communication with prisoners. For example, all prisoners are now notified by letter of all medical appointments – usually receiving notification within two days of requesting an appointment.

Family relationships: The project for school children and their parents delivered in partnership with local authority education services was so popular that plans are in place to run it again. 

Issues IPMs will continue to look at
Personal safety: IPMs will continue to monitor the issue of prisoners being bullied for their medication, and promote the need to improve the situation for those affected.