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

5. Prison Inspection

Ratings Key

Good performance

Good performance

 Indicates good performance which may constitute a practice worthy of sharing.

Satisfactory performance

Satisfactory performance

 Indicates overall satisfactory performance.

Generally acceptable performance

Generally acceptable performance

 Indicates generally acceptable performance though some improvements are required.

Poor performance

Poor performance of what requires to be addressed.

 Indicates poor performance and will be accompanied by a statement

Unacceptable performance

Unacceptable performance

 Indicates unacceptable performance that requires immediate attention.

Not applicable

Not applicable

Quality indicator is not applicable.

Summary of Inspection Ratings for 2018-19

Standard

HMP Perth

HMP Addiewell

HMP YOI Polmont

HMP YOI Grampian

1 Lawful and transparent custody

Generally acceptable performance

Generally acceptable performance

Good performance

Satisfactory performance

2 Decency

Generally acceptable performance

Satisfactory performance

Generally acceptable performance

Satisfactory performance

3 Personal safety

Generally acceptable performance

Satisfactory performance

Good performance

Generally acceptable performance

4
Effective, courteous and humane exercise of authority

Satisfactory performance

Satisfactory performance

Satisfactory performance

Satisfactory performance

5
Respect, autonomy and protection against mistreatment

Satisfactory performance

Generally acceptable performance

Satisfactory performance

Generally acceptable performance

6 Purposeful activity

Satisfactory performance

Generally acceptable performance

Satisfactory performance

Satisfactory performance

7 Transitions from custody to life in
the community

Satisfactory performance

Generally acceptable performance

Satisfactory performance

Good performance

8 Organisational effectiveness

Generally acceptable performance

Satisfactory performance

Good performance

Satisfactory performance

9 Health and wellbeing

Unacceptable performance

Satisfactory performance

Unacceptable performance

Unacceptable performance

Our Findings

Encouraging Observations

Relationships

Staff/prisoners

Positive relationships are key to the successful running of a prison. During this reporting year, SPS and NHS staff and prisoners consistently reported that relationships between them were generally positive and that they felt safe. It was encouraging for inspectors to observe these positive relationships and interactions, built on mutual respect. On numerous occasions IPMs and Inspectors observed outstanding compassion and care from staff dealing with very vulnerable prisoners.

Maintaining family relationships

It is recognised that maintaining strong parent/child relationships during periods of imprisonment is beneficial for both child and parent, and we saw good examples of staff supporting prisoners to maintain good family relationships. Impressive and varied work was being undertaken within prisons to ensure that these key relationships were being maintained and developed. Some examples included:

  • In HMP Perth, hot meals being provided for family visits, where families reported enjoying having dinner as a family unit. There was also a family fun club that took place in the Education Centre every Friday, giving families the opportunity to participate in a variety of courses including cooking, budgeting, and healthy eating.
  • In HMP YOI Polmont, family awareness visits were available to support families to better understand the prison environment. They were tailored to the needs of visitors, to provide knowledge of how their family member would serve their sentence. During family visits, the Family Contact Officers shared the numbers attending each visit and the age of the children with the Chef in advance of the visit, so that lunch packs could be prepared with appropriate food.
  • In HMP YOI Grampian, prisoners whose children were celebrating their birthday whilst visiting had the opportunity to bake them a birthday cake in the kitchen. 

Prison Visitor Centres

The advent of Prison Visitor Centres is a vital addition to the support and services available to the families and friends of those held in custody.

The Prison Visitor Centres we saw during this reporting year had a warm and welcoming atmosphere. In HMP Perth, Cross Reach worked with various organisations that supported a strategy that families could utilise. The Prison Visitor Centre had been open approximately 12 years and received approximately 500 visitors per month.

The family centre at HMP YOI Grampian’s information advice and guidance service to families, and their integrated working with community partners, was good practice worthy of sharing. From our inspection, it was clear that families valued the fantastic facilities and support provided in the family visitor centre, so it was disappointing to learn that financial restrictions are now impacting on the times when the centre is open and the services being offered.

Similarly, while several of the opportunities provided at HMP YOI Polmont were innovative, there is a strong case for improving facilities for visitors along the lines of the HMP YOI Grampian model, particularly as this is a national facility with families potentially having to travel long distances.

Healthcare

There were many good examples of the provision of healthcare services this year. These included clinics in relation to blood borne viruses and ADHD, and the provision of training for the use of Naloxone (to be used in response to a suspected drugs overdose) and its supply to people leaving prison. In one prison, we saw a clear process for patients presenting at reception to be recommenced on opiate replacement therapy (ORT) during their stay, if they were in receipt of a community prescription. Patients who were not receiving ORT therapy in the community, but who requested this in the prison, were assessed quickly so that ORT could be commenced promptly.

We saw a number of health promotion clinics in operation and other initiatives to encourage healthy choices about lifestyle, diet and exercise. These were often jointly run by NHS staff and other staff from education, catering and the gymnasium.

We saw examples of SMART recovery programmes being delivered by highly motivated staff, community volunteers and prisoner peers.

There were examples of collaborative working both within the prison and with partner organisations. For example, Third Sector agencies, community groups, and professionals. We also saw examples of comprehensive mental health assessments, which identified individual needs with care plans reflecting a holistic approach for the patient, and a standardised discharge tool that was used by one prison to share relevant information to the receiving services when the prisoner was released.

Peer Mentoring

Many of the prisons we visited this year had a peer mentoring system in place, where prisoners were trained to support other prisoners and their families to adapt to the prison environment.

In HMP Addiewell, the co-facilitation of prisoner induction by peer mentors and staff provided a good model, as prisoners were able to relate to the experience of their peers whilst the regime of the establishment was reinforced. The sessions observed were well attended and participation from the prisoner group was excellent. Family visit induction had recently involved peer mentors leading the presentation, which allowed visitors to get a perspective from serving prisoners and to ask them questions on prison life.

In HMP Perth, formal and informal peer tutor support worked well in work parties and the Learning Centre.

In HMP YOI Polmont, inspectors were impressed with the role peer mentors had in the reception area, helping to allay any fears prisoners had when first admitted.

In HMP YOI Grampian, the peer mentor in the area that housed female prisoners delivered areas of the national induction to women admitted there, and was supported by national induction staff.

Throughcare Support

Throughcare Support Officers provide a valuable and effective service and make a significant contribution to the successful resettlement of prisoners on release. In 2018-19 we saw some really good examples of the work they, and other enthusiastic and motivated staff, undertake to support individuals for release and best prepare them for the transition from custody back into the community.

In HMP Perth, prisoners were provided with a medical certificate and medication by prison healthcare to see them through to their first doctor’s appointment. They also had a full-time Department of Work and Pensions staff member, who was an important source of advice and guidance for staff and prisoners on understanding and accessing benefits.

HMP Addiewell offered a very engaging business course, focussed primarily on developing self-employment for prisoners as an option on liberation. The prison had effective partnership arrangements in place with organisations to provide long-term support for prisoners after their release. Typically, one prisoner per month moved on to work with a business adviser with a view to starting up their own business. There were several examples of prisoners who had successfully started their own business, and others who were well prepared to do so. Encouragingly, the prison and their local authority partners across North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, and West Lothian had jointly funded a full-time housing officer post. Although access to housing remained an issue in a number of areas, the housing officer in HMP Addiewell was aiding communication, removing barriers and assisting prisoners to secure and sustain tenancies.

Throughcare services in HMP YOI Polmont were an area of particular strength. A range of Third Sector partners had been commissioned to ensure that young people across the whole of Scotland received support prior to and following release. The Positive Futures Plan for short-term prisoners, which was capable of being responsive to the needs of young people, was commended. Developed and created from the desistance theory behind the ‘Asset Inquiry Report’ platform; the development, governance and roll-out, centres on the individual and is appropriately aligned to the Scottish Government’s ‘Getting it Right for Every Child’ approach. This approach was welcomed as good practice and resonated with the adult estate approach to short-term case management.

Concerns

Equality and Diversity

A common theme that gave cause for concern in 2018-19 was the lack of consistent strategic planning and management of equality and diversity within prison establishments. A greater level of attention to the needs of prisoners who are vulnerable, marginalised, or have protected characteristics would enhance the treatment of all prisoners, and there is a need for greater focus on the monitoring, tracking, and reporting of protected characteristics.

It is imperative that prisons across Scotland continue to take a proactive approach to engage with and support prisoners who face barriers to full participation, in order to ensure their individual needs and requirements are met. Processes must be in place to ensure that all prisoners, particularly those for whom English is not their first language, receive information on the prison regime, rules and entitlements, and matters of authority, in a form that they can understand to help safeguard themselves from mistreatment. All prisoners should have equity of access to the full range of opportunities, supports and interventions available in prison. Staff knowledge of human rights and equality duties under the law supports their ability to deliver a human rights based approach.

I am pleased to see the positive response from the SPS to this issue, demonstrating their commitment to fulfilling their obligations under equality and human rights legislation, both as an employer and as a public sector service provider. The SPS Corporate Plan 2019-22 set out the direction and priorities for the SPS, and with the reinvigorated focus overseen by the SPS Equality and Diversity Steering Group we look forward to an improved position in the next year.

Safer Cells

The conditions found within ‘safer’ cells were at times unsuitable and inappropriate for their intended use. The lack of an appropriate bed frame, a place to sit and eat a meal, or access to power fell far short of what should be provided for individuals who are identified as vulnerable. The SPS must, as a matter of urgency, ensure that these cells are reviewed, to provide an acceptable environment for someone who requires additional support or heightened supervision.

The definition of a safer cell has still to be defined following the launch of the SPS Suicide and Prevention Strategy - Talk to Me in December 2016, and the subsequent revisions in 2018, and we would urge the SPS to introduce a safer cell definition to assist establishments to provide the best care for those in crisis. The SPS should consider making access to media in a safer cell a default position, and only remove it if it is considered by staff to be detrimental to someone’s mental health.

Healthcare

As with the 2017-18 inspections, there continues to be challenges with consistent healthcare delivery in many prisons. Staffing, management of patients with long-term conditions, and management of patients with physical healthcare needs stand out as particular areas of concern. Without detracting from the many examples of good practice across Scotland, the apparent lack of a joint Scottish prisons health strategy with consistent assessment and management frameworks is considered detrimental. In some prisons, standardised mental health and learning disability clinical assessment documentation and clinical risk tools were not in place, and there was no agreed standardised mental health assessment framework across Scotland.

We continued to find instances where prisoners were unable to attend clinical appointments, the time taken to administer medicines had a significantly negative impact on all aspects of the prison, and healthcare regime and physical needs were simply not catered for.

Recruitment and retention of staff, along with the rising prison population was a challenge for all prisons, and it was adversely impacting on the ability to deliver healthcare services and allow staff to access mandatory training. We found that staff shortages prevented some senior staff being able to carry out management and leadership duties, and in some prisons clinical and line management supervision was severely limited.

Access to Opioid Replacement Therapy continued to be inconsistent between prisons, and often did not reflect the practice in the local community. Variations in prescribing practices between different prisons, and between the community and prison, provided further causes of dissatisfaction, and the lack of a National Formulary remains unsatisfactory. There also continues to be a need for an effective national IT prescribing system.

There are still issues with the use of NPS, commonly known as legal highs, although illegal in prison. The use of these substances continues to have a detrimental impact within the prison and often led to unpredictable behaviour and links to high level of violence. The SPS and the NHS have not yet ratified an agreed approach across Scotland.

Progression 

The issue of progression, particularly in terms of access to programmes, remained a significant concern. Since our last annual report, the SPS have moved to a national waiting list for all offending behaviour programmes, however we are not yet seeing any positive effects from this change. We found that a significant number of prisoners were not able to progress appropriately through their sentence due to a lack of availability of, or capacity within, treatment programmes. There are lengthy waiting lists for many key programmes. There were also difficulties transferring prisoners to the relevant establishment to complete the programmes due to national population issues. All of this means that a substantial number of prisoners are not able to complete the required programmes for them to be considered for parole. Of perhaps greater concern is that prisoners are at risk of being released into the community without having completed treatment programmes designed to reduce future reoffending. We are aware that the SPS regularly review the accessibility of identified need for treatment programmes.

Whilst in HMP Perth, inspectors noted that although a high percentage of the prisoner population had convictions for domestic abuse, no specific programme was available nationally to explore gender-based violence.

Population Management 

The SPS has for some time been reviewing the management of its overall population. During this period, we found that certain groups of prisoners, particularly those being held on remand and those managed under protection regimes, were being held on restricted regimes with a lack of suitable access to purposeful activity.

Linked to this, we have also been concerned to find that in some prisons these groups were spending too much time in their cells. We found regimes whereby the basic rights and entitlements of these groups were significantly compromised.

It is a legal requirement for all prisoners to have at least one hour in the open air each day, and this should be offered at a reasonable time. They should not be restricted unnecessarily in their cells as a result of any form of informal isolation. In some cases, this could be considered as prolonged isolation under international human rights standards. Article 44 of the Mandela Rules, confirmed in the UK’s NPM guidance, defines solitary confinement as:

“… the confinement of prisoners for 22 hours or more a day without meaningful human contact. Prolonged solitary confinement shall refer to solitary confinement for a time period in excess of 15 consecutive days.”

Personal Officer Scheme

The practice of Personal Officers is considered good practice. However, we found an inconsistent approach. The pressures of overcrowding reduced the capacity for consistent contact between prisoners and identified Personal Officers. There is a need for a more defined Personal Officer Scheme, with protected time, to improve the delivery of this function. We recognise this may come at a cost, but reducing the unnecessary transactional duties and giving more time to relationship management, with the introduction of technology, could assist.

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