Report on Full Inspection of HMP & YOI Grampian: 4 - 15 February 2019

HMIPS Standard 6

Purposeful Activity

All prisoners are encouraged to use their time in prison constructively.  Positive family and community relationships are maintained.  Prisoners are consulted in planning the activities offered.

The prison assists prisoners to use their time purposefully and constructively and provides a broad range of activities, opportunities and services based on the profile of needs of the prisoner population.  Prisoners are supported to maintain positive relationships with family and friends in the community.  Prisoners have the opportunity to participate in recreational, sporting, religious and cultural activities.  Prisoners’ sentences are managed appropriately to prepare them for returning to their community.

Inspection Findings
Overall rating: Satisfactory performance

Satisfactory performance

In summary this was a solidly performing area whose otherwise good performance was marred by the lack of equity of access to opportunities for offence and non-offence protection prisoners.

There was a suitable and sufficient range of employment activities available to most prisoners, which provided opportunity to develop work-related skills.  Major work parties included: catering; gardens; industrial cleaning; laundry; pass duties and recycling.  Other work parties, such as hairdressing, mentoring and creative media, provided a few prisoners with further choice.

Worryingly, female prisoners and male prisoners on an offence-related protection regime had a limited choice of work parties and prisoners on a non-offence protection regime had no work party choice.

There was a wide and sufficient range of appropriate educational opportunities for prisoners.  There was a good range of levels of activity, from personal support in basic literacy, to larger class groups of mainly SCQF level 3/4/5 work, through to Open University.  The provision was based in a bright, modern, well-equipped and appropriate learning centre.  Prisoners were happy with the subject choices on offer, and the subjects were consistent with developing self-confidence, communications skills and employability.  Prisoners were suitably consulted on the offer, and regularly invited to give feedback through direct discussion and well-organised and regular focus groups.

Almost all prisoners were able to access high quality indoor and outdoor sporting and fitness facilities through a well-understood weekly schedule.  However, prisoners on a non-offence protection regime had no scheduled access to the gymnasium.

The gymnasium was well equipped with a suitable range of exercise and training equipment, an indoor games hall and outdoor all-weather football pitch.  Prisoners were also able to access a range of cardio equipment in small satellite gyms located in each residential hall.  All prisoners completed an induction session with a Physical Training Instructor (PTI) prior to accessing the fitness equipment.

The team of PTIs had positive and respectful relationships with prisoners, and this contributed strongly to the gymnasium having a relaxed atmosphere, which encouraged prisoner participation in health and wellbeing activities.  Prisoners were consulted routinely on the type of activities they prefer to engage with.  The PTI team also had strong and effective working relationships with external partners, such as a local senior football club and boxing club, which supported sporting initiatives and activities for prisoners.  Effective internal partnership working with Fife College and NHS Grampian had resulted in health and wellbeing assessments and useful advice and support sessions for prisoners.

The prison library was managed well through a useful partnership with Live Life Aberdeenshire, the cultural and sports arm of the local authority.  The library was well located, roomy, bright and welcoming.  Stock was rotated regularly, and the range of resources available included an appropriate level of more specialised materials covering information on prisoner rights, books in various languages, and large print books.  The link with the local authority also allows quick access to such things as books with coloured filters to help those with dyslexia.  Requests and specialised resources were made available very quickly when asked for, typically within a few days.  The library service was made available to all prisoners; including a service for the SRU.  There was a very high level of use, and impressively, 87% of the resident population used the library service in January 2019.

There was an acceptable and appropriate range of cultural, peer support and self-help activities offered.  However, there were very few leaflets or posters highlighting equalities or cultural activity, limiting the wider awareness.  The education unit staff planned a wide range of displays, promotions and events based around traditional celebrations, promotions and a calendar that takes account of wider cultural and diversity key dates.  The prisoners were supported well in producing artefacts for the Koestler awards, with 111 entries last year.

There was an effective small team of trained peer mentors within the prison who work well to assist newer prisoners in such things as basic literacy, understanding prison systems and settling in to make the best of prison opportunities.  In addition, there were Samaritan trained Listeners who helped to support prisoners who identified as needing this personal support.

Exercise was offered daily in the fresh air for the majority of prisoners and most exercise areas were reasonably new, of appropriate quality, and were clean and tidy, except for those in the Separation and Reintegration unit (SRU).  Outdoor clothing supplied was sufficient, of a good quality and clean.

The prison did not however meet the requirement of universal access for all prisoners.  During the inspection, those on non-offence protection indicated that they were not offered exercise in the fresh air; this was observed during the inspection.  Offence protection prisoners had a separate exercise time designated.  However, they raised complaints that they had to walk through residential areas housing other prisoners, and suffered from abuse, which made them reluctant to participate.

The chaplaincy team has an appropriate multi-faith membership and demonstrated both an inclusive ethos and a pastoral focus.  Excellent relationships were consistently reported between members of the chaplaincy team, other members of prison staff and prisoners.  The weekly chaplaincy programme was full of a range of services and events.  All prisoners were visited individually soon after admission and their specific religious needs and access to articles of faith recognised and addressed.  A church service observed was upbeat and women attending described an uplifting experience with fellowship and coffee after the service being much appreciated.  The chaplaincy team expressed a desire to see the wider prison developing more trauma informed practice.  In this context, it is a concern that no alternative bereavement support service other than the chaplaincy team are available on site.

HMP YOI Grampian visits area was situated on the first floor with disabled access.  The visit facility was large, bright and welcoming.  A large play area was available with toys of good quality that were clean and well maintained.  Relationships with staff, families and partners were positive, but staff shortages amongst visit staff had impacted to an extent on the availability of familiar faces.  Family members booked visits and visit allocation was not restricted as long as spaces were available.  Visit sessions were mixed including women, men and protection populations, this appeared to work well with a relaxed atmosphere.  The children’s visit session was child-centred and an example of good practice.  The children’s visits were very well supported, a number of partner agencies attended, hot food was available and specific activities had been arranged to encourage prisoners to participate with their children.  Specific family events were organised throughout the year and were well received.  Facilities for professional visitors were good, and a virtual court facility was available and had been used recently.

HMP YOI Grampian had a family centre adjacent to the entrance of the prison that was much valued by both visitors and staff who frequently used the excellent facilities.  The establishment has a spacious parking area and was well signposted; there were however no rail facilities and families generally have to travel a considerable distance by car or bus.  Action for Children run the centre with a mix of employed staff and volunteers and HMP YOI Grampian had sited a Family Contact Officer on the premises out of uniform.  There were innovative examples of working across custody and community boundaries.  The way in which the Family Centre provided information advice and guidance was an example of best practice.

HMP YOI Grampian had developed a comprehensive families plan and strategy with a multi-disciplinary steering group.  This was monitoring implementation of the national SPS family strategy.  It was disappointing to learn that HMP YOI Grampian had few parenting skills opportunities and that those which had been in place were likely to be lost due to funding cuts.

Procedures to admit visitors to the establishment were observed.  Staff were polite and respectful and search procedures were sensitively and appropriately managed. Waiting areas were bright and clean with appropriate information on display.

A specific problem facing visitors to HMP YOI Grampian was its location, with families often having to travel a considerable distance.  The establishment had recognised this and operated both the ‘e mail a prisoner’ scheme and ‘video visits’ supported by APEX at a central Aberdeen location during the day.  The establishment had made active representations to service providers and helpful alterations to bus service timetables were, as a result, reported to commence soon.

Facilities were in place to accommodate morning visits for those under specific visit restrictions or for families with specific needs. Particular care was taken to individualise service responses and a number of examples were provided of situations where staff made special efforts to assist. HMP YOI Grampian offers and accommodates prisoners for accumulated visits in accordance with national policy.

Few prisoners were on closed visits at any specific time and there were robust monthly review processes in place.  The only slight concern noted was that prisoners placed on closed visits and their families were notified that this was for a three-month period, although each case was in fact reviewed monthly.

HMP YOI Grampian provides a range of therapeutic treatment and cognitive development opportunities.  Nationally recognised courses are available and the establishment complied with national processes for programme assessment, allocation and notification to prisoners.  The SPS psychology and programmes officer teams were co-located with social work and had positive working relationships with other staff including the clinical psychologist from the NHS.  Staff shortages had caused problems in both the psychology and programmes officer teams.  Evidence was provided of effective contribution to risk assessment and case management practice with high-risk cases being small in number and manageable.  Care was taken to ensure that complex cases were allocated to personal officers with appropriate experience, though the need for wider support and development of the personal officer group was raised as needing to be prioritised.

Concern was expressed that the planned national reallocation of psychology resource would impact on the level of support that could be offered to local initiatives.  Concern was also raised about the implementation of the national SPS programmes waiting list, which was causing significant disruption to prisoners who had to transfer south to participate.  A designated life skills area existed but its use was prioritised for the most vulnerable individuals.  There did not appear to be comprehensive life skills or pre-release opportunities available for the bulk of the Grampian population to maximise the development of social and relational skills.

HMP YOI Grampian operate well-organised, high quality, case management processes.  The Case Management Board (CMB) had a comprehensive list of attendees both internal and external to the prison from statutory and third sector organisations.  The process was very well-organised and chaired by a member of prison staff demonstrating obvious commitment to their role.  As cases were discussed the importance of community mental health support and NHS connectivity was consistently evident.  The establishment Early Release and Lifer Liaison (ERLO/LLO) First Line Manager was performing well.  Effective ‘pull through’ systems had been developed which ensured that individual prisoners were not missed for progression despite lack of consistent personal officer support.

The Throughcare Support Officer (TSO) team perform well and take responsibility for additional innovative areas of practice including support for Community Integration Unit (CIU) work placements and sessions at court, developing positive relationships with both the Judiciary and social work partners.  Given HMP YOI Grampian’s obvious proficiency with case management and throughcare processes, their geographic location and positive relationships with community partners, there are opportunities to pilot a national remand throughcare process for SPS if adequately resourced.  Concerns were expressed that existing well-established and beneficial partner services might be lost or eroded due to resource pressures.  Particular concerns were expressed about the number of prisoners whose throughcare was being disrupted because of transfer to HMP Barlinnie to cope with local population pressures.

The skill and experience of the Deputy Governor as chair of the RMT was acknowledged by a number of participating staff.  National changes to the RMT process were described as positive and assisting in both strengthening assessment and in maintaining consistent high quality of reporting.  Despite staffing shortages in the establishment, specialist case management posts had been protected to ensure continuity wherever possible, it had proved impossible however to maintain regular and consistent personal officer attendance.  The senior team was well connected to community MAPPA representatives, and a comprehensive tracking process for risk and progression cases was evidenced by the responsible First Line Manager.

National changes to Home Detention Curfew (HDC) had led to a dramatic fall in the numbers eligible to apply for consideration.  High quality CIU facilities were available for both male and female populations, but spaces were underused because insufficient prisoners met the national criteria.