Prison - Return Visit Inspection Report
Open Estate

ISBN 978 0 7559 6412 3
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1.1 The visit to the Open Estate was made as part of a programme to visit every prison in the year following a full inspection. In the course of such visits the purpose is to follow up recommendations and points of note from the full inspection, to examine any significant changes, and to explore issues arising from the establishment's own assessment of itself. It should not be seen as an attempt to inspect the whole life of the establishment.

2. The Inspection Team comprised:

Andrew McLellan


David McAllister


David Abernethy


signature of ANDREW R C McLELLAN



November 2006


2.1 This inspection shows that considerable attention has been paid to the report published in 2005. That report was critical of several aspects of the Open Estate. It is good to find evidence of real improvement.

2.2 Last year's report described conditions in the five-bedded dormitories in Castle Huntly as "miserable": there were many suggestions at that time that conditions in these dormitories led to increased drug use. Since this was the accommodation for those arriving in Castle Huntly, and since it set the tone for the rest of their stay, the closure of these dormitories and their conversion into two bedded cells is a very welcome step indeed.

2.3 At the same time two new buildings have been brought into use at Castle Huntly. One is an accommodation houseblock called Murray House. Before it opened there were concerns about the readiness of the prison for this new development. The report shows that the management of the opening was carried out successfully. There is now space, in very good conditions, for 141 more prisoners at Castle Huntly.

2.4 The Links Centre at Castle Huntly is the other new building. Reports over several years have expressed frustration at the lack of opportunities for useful work available to prisoners at Castle Huntly. The new Centre offers very appropriate education and work opportunities in very appropriate settings. It also, as the name suggests, is an excellent facility for the important contacts made between prisoners near the end of their sentences and outside agencies concerned with housing, benefits, employment etc.

2.5 All of these improvements combine to produce a more purposeful atmosphere at Castle Huntly.

2.6 At Noranside much of the activity since the last report has been concentrated on the introduction of "Continuous Cell Occupancy". This report shows that this difficult process has been managed well and that the scheme has been introduced successfully. As a result of this initiative some prisoners, after appropriate risk assessments have been carried out, are able to spend one week per month on Home Leave. The scheme also means that another 27 prisoner places are now available at Noranside. The report shows, however, that there are still serious concerns about the scheme: many other aspects of the life of the prison have been marginalised in order to make it work.

2.7 The Report of 2005 welcomed the prospect of the opening of the Garden Centre. This project has a troubled history in the eighteen months of its existence: it has not been functioning for a considerable part of that time. It is very important that proper management systems are put in place now to make sure that the Centre is able to function properly by the coming of spring in 2007.

2.8 The report draws attention to three other good developments. The introduction of Integrated Case Management is already making a good contribution to cooperation and better systems of working together for prison staff and social work departments. While this is to be welcomed in any prison, it is particularly important for prisoners approaching the end of their sentences. There has also been an increase in resources for addressing addiction problems. Thirdly, it is very noticeable that the "lock-up" culture which made Castle Huntly a strange kind of open prison has been replaced by arrangements which give prisoners more responsibility; and give them access to showers, toilets and telephones all day and every day.


Five Recommendations and forty one Points of Note were made in the last full inspection report. Progress as follows:




Not fully implemented


Points of Note



Not fully implemented


Not implemented


No longer relevant



11.1 Concerns about the readiness of the Open Estate to cope with the additional 141 prisoners at Castle Huntly should be addressed (paragraphs 2.1, 2.18, 4.18, 5.13, 5.18, 5.21, 6.5, 8.4, 8.27, 8.36, 9.1, 9.8, 9.17).

Implemented. Murray House opened in August 2005. Concerns about the readiness of the Open Estate to cope were addressed. Additional resources are in place and the prison is coping well with the higher numbers.

11.2 Ways should be found to allow Castle Huntly prisoners greater freedom of movement within the prison (paragraph 2.7).

Implemented. The conversion of the dormitories in Wallace Wing and Bruce Wing allows freedom of movement 24 hours per day. The greater freedom has also been enhanced during the day by new staff rostering arrangements and a new appointment booking system.

11.3 The operation of the Sentence Management Scheme nationally should be reviewed and resource implications clearly identified (paragraph 5.13).

Implemented. The Sentence Management Scheme has now been replaced by Integrated Case Management. At a local level this has provided a clearer structure.

11.4 A consistent system for providing prisoners with information about the Open Estate is put in place across the SPS (paragraph 5.14).

Not fully implemented. A Question and Answer sheet and an information pamphlet are sent to eligible prisoners, but it is not clear that they are reaching these prisoners.

11.5 The Links Centre in Castle Huntly should be completed as a matter of urgency (paragraph 5.18).

Implemented. The Links Centre opened in December 2005.


12.1 The standard of accommodation in the dormitories in Castle Huntly should be improved (paragraphs 2.3 and 2.5).

Implemented. Each dormitory has been converted into two units of two bedded rooms. The accommodation is now much better.

12.2 Recreation facilities in Castle Huntly should be improved (paragraph 2.6).

Not fully implemented. Attempts have been made to identify additional recreation facilities but suggestions from prisoners have been limited. The gymnasium has been upgraded.

12.3 Ways should be found to allow the mountain bikes in Castle Huntly to be used (paragraph 2.6).

Implemented. The bikes are now back in use.

12.4 Both sites should ensure that Prisoner Complaint Forms are available and accessible (paragraph 3.4).

Not fully implemented. Some Complaint Forms were available in the gate area in Castle Huntly, and some in individual wings. However, there was still uncertainty about their location.

12.5 The Addiction Strategy should be updated and an implementation or action plan developed (paragraph 4.9).

Implemented. A comprehensive Addiction Strategy was put in place in early September 2006. This is based on the SPS National Strategy. It is accompanied by a Management Action Plan to ensure that it is implemented.

12.6 The outline paper on the integrated care pathway of addiction treatment should be developed in more detail (paragraph 4.10).

Implemented. See 12.5.

12.7 The Drug Strategy Team for both sites and the Castle Huntly Addictions Management Team should be reconvened (paragraph 4.15).

Implemented. The Addiction Team has been increased during the past year and includes one Manager, one Senior Practitioner, two Addiction Workers and one Administrative Support. A further addiction worker was due to take up post shortly after the inspection. A weekly Addiction Case Management Conference approach is in place which covers both sites. A doctor takes part in this.

12.8 Management should ensure that residential officers fulfil their role in prisoner induction (paragraph 5.4).

Implemented. Changes to the staff rostering system mean that staff now attend induction when required.

12.9 The improvement in the Sentence Management arrangements at Noranside should be maintained (paragraph 5.12).

Implemented. The replacement of Sentence Management with Integrated Case Management has also provided a clearer structure. Targets are being met.

12.10 The arrangements for Sentence Management at Castle Huntly should be improved (paragraph 5.12).

Implemented. The replacement of Sentence Management with Integrated Case Management has provided a clearer structure.

12.11 The resources available to carry out work associated with life sentence prisoners should be reviewed to ensure the needs of the additional prisoner population will be met (paragraph 5.21).

Implemented. There is one full-time Lifer Liaison Officer and two full-time Parole Administrators in post. One of the Administrator posts has been created in the past year. At the time of inspection there were 33 lifers living in Castle Huntly and 13 in Noranside. Forty-one Tribunals had been held between January and August 2006, with seven held or scheduled for September. This is a significant amount of work.

12.12 Lifer meetings and lifer self help groups should be organised (paragraph 5.21).

Not fully implemented. Attempts were made to organise these groups but there was a lack of interest and take up from prisoners.

12.13 The lack of storage space and inadequate soundproofing in the health centre in Castle Huntly should be addressed (paragraph 6.4).

No longer relevant. A new health centre was due to open in the week after the inspection.

12.14 The small arts room in the Noranside Learning Centre is not a suitable environment for learning and should be improved (paragraph 7.4).

Implemented. This room is no longer used. Art classes are held in one of the larger classrooms. A new "Links Centre" for Noranside is currently at the planning stage and it will include education facilities.

12.15 Tutors in Noranside should be able to access software to support learners with additional support needs (paragraph 7.4).

Implemented. The arrangements for this are now in place.

12.16 The learning centre in Noranside should have a photocopier installed (paragraph 7.4).

No longer relevant. There is already limited space in the Learning Centre. A photocopier is available in the administration area of the prison.

12.17 Teaching staff at Noranside need to develop mechanisms for engaging with prisoners, particularly those with literacy and numeracy skills (paragraph 7.5).

Not fully implemented. Induction takes place in Castle Huntly and when prisoners move to Noranside their learning plans should move with them. Engaging prisoners at a later stage who have not been identified at induction is more difficult, although Independent Living Unit sessions in basic cooking, food hygiene, budgeting and healthy eating have helped.

12.18 There were insufficient mechanisms for teaching staff in Noranside to meet other prison staff or to promote learning opportunities to prisoners (paragraph 7.5).

Implemented. The logistics of the prison makes informal contact easy. More formal processes have also included involvement in the Race Relations Committee; Heads of Department meetings; and the Garden Centre Project team. There are monthly meetings with the learning centre manager from Castle Huntly and the Open Estate Head of Inclusion.

12.19 No mechanisms were in place to prioritise provision for prisoners with literacy and numeracy needs (paragraph 7.5).

Implemented. Individual Learning Plans are created for every prisoner who engages with the learning centre. Prisoners with greater literacy or numeracy needs are prioritised. Prisoners with needs who are transferred to Noranside are "red-flagged" and picked up on transfer.

12.20 There were no mechanisms in place for linking prisoners on release to literacy and numeracy provision in the community (paragraph 7.6).

Implemented. The Open Estate has a link with "The Big Plus" in Dundee, aimed at linking prisoners with external service providers. Prisoners have appointments arranged for them with external agencies on liberation.

12.21 Staff in both learning centres should systematically conduct self-evaluation (paragraph 7.9).

Not fully implemented. Staff development weeks tend to take place in Motherwell College twice a year and it is difficult for Open Estate staff to attend. Other opportunities for in-house training are available in both Castle Huntly and Noranside, often alongside prison officers and other staff. Learning centre staff have annual appraisals and monthly team meetings where performance, targets and teaching methods are discussed and development needs and opportunities identified.

12.22 More prisoners in Castle Huntly should be able to participate in Learning, Skills and Employability activity (paragraph 7.10).

Implemented. Since October 2005 two employability advisers have been working with prisoners to identify skills gaps and opportunities for development. Open days have been held and it is hoped to engage more with personal officers.

12.23 No vocational qualifications were offered to prisoners at both sites (paragraph 7.11).

Implemented. A range of vocational qualifications are now available at both sites. The Forklift Training facility refurbished by staff and prisoners at Noranside is particularly impressive.

12.24 Management should consider the potential benefits of making the library arrangements at Noranside similar to those at Castle Huntly (paragraph 7.19).

Not implemented. The good arrangement in place at Castle Huntly is now under threat because books are not always returned. Ways of allowing prisoners access to a library service at both sites need to be found.

12.25 The need for the level of staffing at visits in Castle Huntly should be assessed (paragraph 8.1).

Implemented. The visits area is now located in the new Links Centre. Two staff provide supervision. The visits are relaxed.

12.26 The operation of the Family Contact Development Officer Scheme at Castle Huntly should be reviewed (paragraph 8.2).

Not implemented. The Family Contact Officer scheme continues to be run on an informal basis.

12.27 The reduction in facilities and opportunities for those taking visits in Castle Huntly should be reviewed (paragraph 8.3).

Implemented. The visits area is now located in the new Links Centre. There is a vending machine for snacks and one for hot drinks. Visitors can also bring in food and drinks. There is a play area for children. Facilities are good.

12.28 Any changes to visit availability at Castle Huntly should take into account current use and future capacity of the prison (paragraph 8.4).

Implemented. See 12.25 and 12.27.

12.29 Prisoners in Castle Huntly should have the same access to telephones as prisoners in Noranside (paragraph 8.5).

Implemented. All prisoners in Castle Huntly now have access to a telephone 24 hours a day.

12.30 Social work staff should have access to their councils' intranet service (paragraph 8.17).

Not implemented. Efforts have been made to access the councils' intranet service but these have been unsuccessful. However, with ICM now up and running it is hoped that they will be able to link to the Community Justice Authority Hub in the future. All social workers now have their own SPIN machine and there is access to the internet. A 'K' drive has been set up to allow information storage and retrieval between sites. While access to the councils' intranet service would be beneficial it has not impeded the core work of the department.

12.31 Any significant event relating to prisoners should be communicated to social work staff (paragraph 8.17).

Implemented. Lines of communication and information sharing at all levels in Castle Huntly are much improved. There is more shared working with uniformed staff and the Addictions Team with the introduction of ICM. Both teams in Castle Huntly and in Noranside are very well integrated into the prisons.

12.32 There is a significant issue of under-resourcing in the social work units on both sites, and the implications of this should be examined (paragraph 8.27).

Implemented. There has been significant investment in social work, by SPS, during the course of the year. There are now five Social Workers and a Team Leader in Castle Huntly and three Social Workers in Noranside.

12.33 A structured programme of preparation for and review of Home Leaves should be reintroduced (paragraph 8.29).

Implemented. As part of the admissions/induction process at Castle Huntly, prisoners are given information on what to expect when they start Home Leaves. Furthermore, when a prisoner signs his licence the week before his first Home Leave he has a one-to-one session with an officer. A review is underway to formalise these arrangements further.

12.34 A realistic payment should be made to prisoners to meet the expenses incurred during Home Leaves (paragraph 8.30).

Not implemented. The payment remains the same.

12.35 All prisoners should have equal access to the most appropriate travel arrangements for Home Leaves (paragraph 8.31).

Not fully implemented. Some flexibility has been introduced.

12.36 The delivery of programmes by staff with other duties should be monitored (paragraph 8.36).

Implemented. Two officers now provide programmes across both sites on a full-time basis. The PTIs run their own specific programmes.

12.37 The Race Relations Committees should meet regularly (paragraph 8.37).

Not implemented. Race Relations in Castle Huntly is carried out on a very ad hoc basis. There is no Race Relations Committee or Race Relations Officer in place. A Race Relations Committee and RRO are in place in Noranside.

12.38 The provision for lunch on placements should be addressed (paragraph 9.12).

Implemented. Prisoners on placement are now provided with two packs of sandwiches, fruit and a drink.

12.39 The dining room at Noranside should be redecorated (paragraph 9.15)


12.40 The capacity of the laundry at Castle Huntly should be examined to ensure it can cope with the additional prisoners (paragraph 9.17).

Not fully implemented. The process of upgrade has started.

12.41 Arrangements should be put in place in Castle Huntly to facilitate prisoner access to the canteen every day (paragraph 9.21).

Not fully implemented. A Service Level Agreement is in place with a private provider. The canteen is available two nights per week and on a Saturday afternoon. This contract was due to expire at the end of September 2006: discussions were ongoing about future arrangements. The results of the latest Prisoner Survey showed that prisoners were not content with the canteen, but no complaints were made to the Inspectorate during the inspection.


Murray House

4.1 The new accommodation, Murray House, opened in August 2005. It was fully occupied by the end of October. Murray House provides 141 places, in effect doubling the size of the Castle Huntly prisoner population. The implications of the additional prisoners are discussed elsewhere in the report.

4.2 The hall is bright, spacious and clean. There are three sections which are individually locked at night. Prisoners can move about freely within their own section and can lock their own door. Telephones and showers are available 24 hours a day. The showers are in separate cubicles and offer privacy. However, there are no 'grip rails' in the showers and there are no shower mats. Consideration should be given to installing 'grip rails' and a wooden (or otherwise appropriate) foot rack to reduce the risk of slipping. Estates should also ensure that light bulbs and other fitments are replaced as and when required.

Continuous Cell Occupancy

4.3 Continuous Cell Occupancy ( CCO) is now in place in Noranside. Concerns expressed by the Inspectorate about the administrative arrangements for CCO and the Extended Home Leave ( EHL) Scheme that works alongside it have been addressed. Staff have worked hard to ensure the scheme functions. It also means that another 27 prisoner places are now available at Noranside, (an increase of 19%).

4.4 However, CCO is having a major impact on the running of the prison, especially on a Wednesday (changeover day). Noranside needs to be careful that the prison does not become a 'warehouse' for prisoners between Home Leaves. Significant parts of the regime are currently being sacrificed or at least compromised to allow the arrangements for CCO and EHL to be managed. This concern was raised forcefully during the inspection by the Visiting Committee.

Implications of the Increased Prisoner Numbers

4.5 Continuous Cell Occupancy and the opening of Murray House have increased the population of the Open Estate by 168. This increase in numbers presents a real challenge: will it be possible to provide all that is required to meet the needs of the new population? While the amount of work has increased at Castle Huntly, it is important that work places increase to meet the new numbers. The same is true of education. A particular concern is the opportunity provided by outside placements. This is a very valuable part of preparation for release, but it is still to be demonstrated that enough new work placements can be found.

Dormitory Accommodation in Castle Huntly

4.6 Each of the dormitories in Castle Huntly have been converted into two units of two bedded rooms. The accommodation is now much better.

Links Centre

4.7 The Links Centre in Castle Huntly opened in December 2005. This is a good facility and is very well used. It doubles as the visit room in the evenings and at weekends.

4.8 The reception desk is staffed by two prisoners. There may be issues surrounding confidentiality given this staffing arrangement, and Management should monitor the situation very closely, consulting with the agencies and organisations who use the Centre.

Integrated Case Management

4.9 Integrated Case Management ( ICM) has now replaced Sentence Management. This has provided a clearer structure and has led to much closer working between social work, addictions and uniformed staff.


4.10 The management and provision of addiction services has improved significantly over the past year. A comprehensive strategy is in place, accompanied by a Management Action Plan. There was wide consultation on this. Phoenix House have been building up to full capacity. The addiction team comprises one Manager, one Senior Practitioner, two addiction workers (with another due to start soon after the inspection), and one administrative support. There is also an addictions nurse based in the health centre and a doctor devotes every Wednesday to addiction issues.

4.11 Drug test failures have been removed from the Orderly Room in most cases to allow a more caring and interventionist approach to be adopted. An addictions clinic takes place once a week and a multi-disciplinary case management meeting covering both sites also takes place every week. Both sites now test for drugs in the same way ('rapid testing' rather than MDT), and Pre and Post Home Leave Groups addressing addiction issues are held. The number of interventions has also increased significantly.

Social Work

4.12 Additional resources have been provided by SPS for social work services. This has meant that the teams can provide a more comprehensive service. Working relationships with others in the prison are excellent.

The Garden Centre

4.13 The past year has been a troubled one for the Garden Centre at Noranside. However, the organisational problems now appear to have been resolved but the seasonal nature of the industry means that it will be the spring of 2007 before it can be assessed whether the Centre can become a viable business providing opportunities for prisoners.