HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland: Annual Report 2018-19

4. The year in brief

Inspections and other reports

We conducted four full prison inspections; two return visit prison inspections; and five Court Custody Unit inspections during this reporting year, 2018-19.

Our prison inspections were carried out by a multi-disciplinary team made up of HMIPS staff and staff from our key partner agencies/scrutiny bodies; whilst our Court Custody Unit inspections were conducted by members from HMIPS.

Brief Summary Of Full Prison Inspections

In all four inspections, prisoners and staff reported they felt largely safe and there was evidence of positive and respectful relationships between staff and prisoners.

HMP Perth was an establishment that did many things to a high standard. The initiatives around health and wellbeing for prisoners and their families, case management and throughcare stood out. However, the fabric of the older part of the establishment, that housed two prisoners in cramped conditions, did not provide fit for purpose accommodation. There were also serious concerns regarding aspects of the healthcare provision, which were immediately escalated. On further visits, HMIPS noted appropriate remedial actions were underway.

In HMP Addiewell, inspectors welcomed the positive and innovative work with Police Scotland in tackling the impact of New Psychoactive Substances, and appreciated the number of observed good practices in e.g. healthcare, peer mentoring and business courses. However, access to opportunities for some cohorts was too restrictive and staff shortages impacted on the growth and development of the establishment. On a return visit, inspectors noted the improvements in regime and the recruitment of a significant number of staff.

The opportunities afforded by HMP YOI Polmont for young people were evidence-based, leading edge and impressive. Inspectors welcomed a number of very positive initiatives including the partnerships with the community, the focus on the family, Positive Futures Planning and enhanced cohort specific training for staff. Young people’s involvement in the Year of the Young People Committee, and the use of peer mentoring stood out. However, the take up of the opportunities on offer remained hugely problematic. This and the challenges experienced by the NHS were concerning in an otherwise progressive establishment.

In HMP YOI Grampian, the inspection team found an establishment that had matured, and despite a small number of significant incidents in 2018, was largely calm and purposeful. Community and partnership supports were positive, purposeful and linked to pockets of innovative practice. Although concerns were raised during the inspection about healthcare provision, it was encouraging to see improvements in substance misuse and mental health service delivery. However, the serious staff shortages precluded moving forward and addressing the very restrictive regime available to remand prisoners. A long-term solution to the staffing shortages is essential.

Full Inspections

HMP Perth 14-25 May 2018
HMP Addiewell 6-17 August 2018
HMP YOI Polmont 29 October-9 November 2018
HMP YOI Grampian 4-15 February 2019

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HMP YOI Grampian 11-13 June 2018
HMP Perth 26-28 November 2018

Court Custody Unit Inspections

Edinburgh Sheriff Court 18 July 2018
Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court 27 August 2018
Hamilton Sheriff Court 3 September 2018
Aberdeen Sheriff Court 17 December 2018
Paisley Sheriff Court 4 March 2019

The published reports from the above inspections can be found on our website at

The National Preventive Mechanism (NPM)

This year we attended quarterly NPM business meetings as well as meetings of the NPM Scottish Sub Group, and contributed to the NPM thematic work. The Committee Against Torture also visited the UK during this period and produced a report on their findings. The Scottish Government are currently preparing their response to the report.

Organisation Review for Independent Prison Monitoring

HMIPS completed an organisation review for independent prison monitoring and moved from the current three regions in this reporting year to a four region model from April 2019.

Submissions to the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee

The 2017-18 Annual Report was laid before the Scottish Parliament in September 2018.

Calls for Evidence

During the period of this report we gave written evidence to The Equalities and Human Rights Committee on human rights and working with Parliaments and civil society, and written evidence to The Justice Committee on the Management of Offenders (Scotland) Bill.

Freedom of Information

One request was received during this reporting period and responded to within the agreed time limits.