Report on HMP Addiewell 6-17 August 2018

Standard 8 – Organisational Effectiveness

The prison’s priorities are consistent with the achievement of these Standards and are clearly communicated to all staff. There is a shared commitment by all people working in the prison to co‑operate constructively to deliver these priorities.

Staff understand how their work contributes directly to the achievement of the prison’s priorities. The prison management team shows leadership in deploying its resources effectively to achieve improved performance. It ensures that staff have the skills necessary to perform their roles well. All staff work well with others in the prison and with agencies which provide services to prisoners. The prison works collaboratively and professionally with other prisons and other criminal justice organisations.

Satisfactory performance

Inspection Findings
Overall Rating: Satisfactory performance

It was clear that in the last two years the new management team had endeavoured to create a set of management information that allowed them to better understand their business. What was less evident was how this information was used to help support and inform the staff working directly with prisoners. There was some concern that the level of information being gathered was too much and information fatigue may set in for staff. Management must ensure that the information gathered is communicated and used in a manner that staff understand, so that they can readily see its relevance to the job they are being asked to do.

One clear area where management information had been configured to inform activities related to the approach taken to the challenging emergence of psychoactive substances. Local management undertook to analyse the issue in a systematic manner and developed, in partnership with Police Scotland, a range of activities to understand the nature, scope and scale of the challenge, and where possible to disrupt those involved in its introduction into the establishment. This activity produced some impressive results and continues to develop as their understanding of the issue increases. This is good practice and should be considered for wider use in the SPS estate.

Staff openly acknowledged that communications from, and their relationship with management had improved since the arrival of the current Director. It was clear that he and his team had endeavoured to ensure that staff were kept informed and engaged. However, it was also clear that much remains to be done as staff openly acknowledged that they felt under pressure, with many stating to inspectors that they feared for their jobs should they make a mistake. Whilst it is not for HMIPS to comment on specific cases, it is important for staff to feel they are working in an environment where personal development and learning is achieved in a supportive and understanding way.

It must be said that HMP Addiewell’s single most enduring challenge over the past few years has been retaining staff and maintaining the agreed staffing complement. This situation made it difficult for staff to have a clear understanding of the vision for the establishment and have clarity in relation to the part they play in delivering it. On a number of occasions inspectors found staff with only a few months’ experience being supported by staff with as little as 12 to 14 months’ experience. This is a far from ideal situation, especially when it is aggravated by staff being redeployed on a regular basis to cover roles that they have little or no experience in undertaking. This situation resulted in many staff focusing on the job in hand, and having little time or opportunity to understand the contribution of others or the support that they may provide to the prisoners in their care.

Whilst the management team had a clear vision for the establishment, this had not yet be been recognised or taken on board by many of the staff. Almost without exception staffs main concern related to staff shortages and the pressure they felt to work overtime to cover shifts. This was especially evident with staff working within the residential areas.

The lack of a universal and embedded system of personal officers was concerning, and had resulted in a situation where many staff were unsure of their roles and responsibilities in relation to supporting those in their care through their sentence. Sentence management and progression issues are uppermost in the minds of most prisoners, and when hall staff are unable to adequately respond to their queries there is the potential for tensions and anxieties to rise.

Finally, it is disappointing to note that significant medical resources were under‑utilised as a direct result of prisoners not attending appointments. On questioning healthcare staff, it was clear that in the majority of cases these failures to attend were as a result of prison staff not being available to escort prisoners to the health centre.