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

6. Independent Prison Monitoring

Independent Prison Monitoring Advisory Group (IPMAG)

Dr Alan Mitchell - Chair, Independent Prison Monitoring Advisory Group

Dr Alan Mitchell
Chair, IPMAG

IPMAG provides oversight of the effectiveness of Independent Prison Monitoring in Scotland and the training and guidance available to IPMs, and makes recommendations for improvement.

It brings together IPM representatives, the HMIPS Prison Monitoring Co-ordinators, and a number of external experts in prisons, health and human rights to advise on prison monitoring in Scotland.

IPMAG Members 2018-19

  • Dr Alan Mitchell, Chair, Commissioner for the Scottish Human Rights Commission and UK representative on the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture
  • Jim McManus, Deputy Chair, IPMAG, and UK representative on the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture
  • David Croft, former Deputy Director of Prisons for the SPS, and former Governor-in-Charge of HMP Edinburgh 
  • Dan Gunn, former Director of Operations for the SPS 
  • Anne Hawkins, formerly the Director of Glasgow City Community Health Partnership - stood down during this reporting year
  • Richard Sparks, Professor of Criminology at the University of Edinburgh - stood down during this reporting year
  • Pete White, founder and Chief Executive of Positive Prisons? Positive Futures 
  • Marilyn Stenhouse, IPM at HMP YOI Cornton Vale 
  • Catherine Mullen, IPM at HMP & YOI Grampian
  • Fiona Govan, IPM at HMP Greenock
  • Hugh McGloin, IPM at HMP Low Moss 
  • Howard McKenzie, IPM at HMP YOI Polmont
  • Muriel Mowat, IPM at HMP YOI Polmont

In addition, HMCIPS is a member of the IPMAG, along with the HMIPS Prison Monitoring Co-ordinators. A representative from the Scottish Government’s Justice Directorate is also invited to each meeting as an observer.

During the 2018-19 reporting year Beth McMaster, former National Prison Monitoring Co-ordinator, moved on from her role within the Inspectorate, and two of the group’s external experts, Deputy Chair Anne Hawkins, together with Professor Richard Sparks, stood down, each having served three years on IPMAG. I am grateful to Beth, Anne and Richard for their invaluable assistance in establishing oversight of prison monitoring in Scotland.

The IPMAG met on four occasions during 2018-19. They focussed on:

  • Reviewing and improving the National IPM Guidance, to ensure that IPMs are well informed on how to exercise their statutory duties. 
  • Reviewing the provision of training for IPMs, to ensure that IPMs are adequately trained on all aspects of the role, and on how to deal with matters they encounter while conducting monitoring visits.
  • Reviewing and improving the way in which Separation and Reintegration Units within prison establishments in Scotland are monitored, to seek assurances that the more vulnerable prisoners are being cared for in accordance with their human rights.
  • Reviewing the ongoing improvements to the provision of health and social care in prisons.
  • An annual review of the IPMAG Terms of Reference and compliance with the legislation.

Independent Prison Monitoring - Summary of Performance

2018-19 was the third full year of the operation of Independent Prison Monitoring, the responsibility of HMCIPS since August 2015, with over 120 IPMs ensuring that every prison in Scotland was visited each week to monitor the conditions and treatment in prison, through observing practice, and responding to prisoners’ requests for assistance. During this time, IPMs volunteered over 5,000 hours of their time monitoring Scotland’s prisons on 917 occasions and dealing with more than 900 requests from prisoners.

Region (of Scotland)

Prison

Population on 31 March 2019[2]

IPM Visits

Prisoner
Requests

North

HMP Glenochil

740

63

82

HMP YOI Grampian

458

49

100

HMP Inverness

123

56

17

HMP Open Estate

188

52

10

HMP Perth

704

57

57

East

HMP Addiewell

696

78

104

HMP YOI Cornton Vale

90

45

35

HMP Edinburgh

917

110

101

HM YOI Polmont

471

59

31

HMP Shotts

536

71

66

South and West

HMP Barlinnie

1437

65

100

HMP Dumfries

193

51

13

HMP Greenock

214

51

20

HMP Kilmarnock

578

64

49

HMP Low Moss

777

46

45

Total

8122

917

740

Independent Prison Monitoring - Our Findings

IPMs’ findings were communicated regularly to prison Governors and Directors throughout 2018-19. Annual monitoring reports relating to each prison can be found at Annex A of this report.

Over 900 requests were received from prisoners across Scotland. The top four categories of requests accounted for 53% of the total number received, and were categorised under the headings medical (189), prison regime (52), transfer (39) and visits (37). The remaining number of requests for each category were small.

From our analysis, one of the major dissatisfactions under the medical category related to the non-standard prescribing practices across the healthcare providers. HMIPS will welcome the national formulary coming into fruition to reduce this apparent tension. Access to appointments and advocacy were also frequent requests under this category. Dissatisfaction and concerns with progression, access to activities, and offending behaviour programmes match the findings in inspections.

We are concerned that prisoners may see IPMs as an alternative route to expedite their complaints. HMIPS will continue to reaffirm that the legislative role is to examine the conditions in prison and the treatment of prisoners via requests and observations, and not to intervene in the complaints process.

We have been encouraged to see improvements being implemented as establishments respond positively to the observations and findings of IPMs. Some of these changes have related to the circumstances of individual prisoners, while others have led to improvements in processes affecting the wider population in the prison.

HMIPS have been grateful for the consistent co-operation and support shown by Governors and staff in every prison.

There are real benefits in having both inspecting and monitoring under the remit of HMIPS. This allows for information sharing, joint working, and a co-ordinated approach without in any way compromising the independence of the IPMs. We are grateful, too, to the IPMAG for their support in reviewing the operation of independent prison monitoring.

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