Report on HMP Addiewell 6-17 August 2018

Sodexo Justice Services

Overview by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland (HMCIPS)

Wendy Sinclair‑Gieben, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland

This was my first inspection following my appointment as HMCIPS in July 2018.

HMP Addiewell is a privately-operated prison, situated in West Lothian, which holds 700 adult men. It opened in December 2008, and is run by Sodexo Justice Services on a 25-year contract with the SPS. The prison houses both convicted and untried adult males.

The legislation governing the private operation of prisons embeds a three-way accountability and public assurance framework. The Scottish Government’s role, through the SPS, is to purchase services to manage the contract and to monitor the contractor’s performance. The contractor’s role is to provide the contracted services and to meet contracted Key Performance Indicators. My role is to provide independent oversight and report to the Scottish Ministers. The public should also draw confidence from HMIPS scrutiny.

As a relatively new prison, HMP Addiewell is well designed and built, and allows for plenty of natural light throughout the establishment. The living accommodation was maintained to a high standard, with integral toilets and showers in each cell.


The role of senior managers within the establishment is to set the direction and provide leadership. Staff openly acknowledged that communications from, and their relationship with, management had improved since the arrival of the current Director. There was a clear strategy in place for the prison’s future, with a clear communication plan for all staff. It was evident that the Director and his team had endeavoured to ensure that staff were kept informed and engaged.

The quality of staff and prisoner relationships is one of the contributory factors in determining a whole system approach to prisons. Not only for control and security but also to assist prisoners to turn their lives around. It was pleasing to note that overall, prisoners and staff reported that they felt safe, and inspectors saw evidence of positive and respectful relationships between staff and prisoners.

However, staffing levels and experience have been identified throughout this report as a concern. This issue was brought to inspectors notice by the Director, who shared his concerns about his ability to recruit to the levels of staffing required within the prison. Inspectors noted the pressure this brought to staff deployment arrangements and the impact on the regime, particularly in relation to escorting prisoners to appointments.

Inspectors welcomed a number of very positive initiatives including the impressive partnerships with Police Scotland in tackling the impact of Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS), and working with local authority partners in funding a full-time housing officer post.

Inspectors also appreciated the number of observed good practices. Many of which had already been identified by Independent Prison Monitors, and were subsequently confirmed by inspectors observations during the inspection. These included:

  • giving prisoners a voice by involving them in the development and process of prisoner induction, chaplaincy, education and the Diversity and Inclusion Strategy;
  • the focus on the family; through liberations taking place in the welcoming environment of the visits area where families could wait in comfort, to the introduction of a movie night and family programme, the Barista cafe in the family visits areas and family involvement in case management;
  • a comprehensive and interactive prisoner induction process;
  • innovative practices in healthcare; in particular the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) initiative;
  • an engaging business course focused on self-employment; and
  • strategies to reduce self-harm.

Disappointingly, some prisoners were excluded from accessing these good initiatives, and either had not received the excellent induction or were given the information much later in their stay. In addition, access to the regime was so restricted for a cohort of protection prisoners on one hall that it was immediately escalated to the Director, and a return visit was arranged to check and confirm improvement and progress against this finding. This will also be routinely monitored by the Independent Prison Monitors.


The provision of healthcare was of a satisfactory standard, with a well-motivated and caring workforce who demonstrated a clear knowledge and understanding of treatment options. Prisoners spoke positively about the healthcare they received. There were good examples of innovative practice and inspectors welcomed the emphasis on ensuring prisoners were directly involved in their own healthcare.

The partnerships with Public Health and the Ambulance Services on the management of patients who had used NPS was impressive. Inspectors welcomed the ADHD clinic, health promotion and education, and were pleased to note the satisfactory health screening for all prisoners on admission.

However, there were areas identified for improvement. Some patients with complex healthcare needs were not appropriately assessed and supported to meet their daily living activities. It was also disappointing to note the number of missed appointments, lengthy delays in bringing prisoners to healthcare appointments and the perception by healthcare staff that Sodexo staff do not intervene when healthcare staff are being subjected to verbally aggressive behaviour.


HMP Addiewell operated an electronic kiosk system that prisoners accessed to order their meals, book activities and keep track of their finances, without the need to refer to prison staff. It was an effective way of keeping prisoners up to date with events that were happening in the prison, and inspectors applauded the publication of news of prisoners gaining employment on release. However, the kiosk system usage was limited for prisoners with little to no English or learning difficulties.

Learning and skills

Prisoners’ experience of the education opportunities on offer was positive, and the prison offered an engaging business course focussed primarily on developing prisoners for self‑employment as an option on liberation.

Despite the modern design of the prison, the range of employment and training opportunities available, particularly for long‑term prisoners, was too narrow. Attendance was observed as below 50% capacity. It was particularly disappointing to discover that two workshops had been closed for some time and no alternative use of the space had been developed, reducing the access to useful vocational training and accreditation opportunities.

However, HMP Addiewell was commissioned and therefore built to be a “learning prison” with an emphasis on educational facility. Beyond the usual prison utility employment opportunities, such as passmen, cleaners, kitchens, stores, etc., there was no allocated space for “workshops”. Vocational learning was classroom‑based with the exception of qualifications associated with the employment opportunities mentioned above. As a result, it was not possible for prisoners, particularly those serving long‑term sentences to become meaningfully employed in a challenging employment environment that has an associated range of vocational training opportunities. The establishment noted this to be a significant missed opportunity and long‑term challenge. Inspectors were informed that HMP Addiewell had spent a considerable amount of time trying to recruit staff to fulfil the original purpose of the workshops.

Case management

The case management of long‑term prisoners’ sentences was effective, but this was not the case for short‑term prisoners. Additionally, there were delays in accessing offender related programmes and the production of post programme reports was tardy.

The visiting arrangements were well organised and prisoners were encouraged and supported to maintain contact with their family and friends. There was a dedicated in‑house visitor centre run by the Cyrenians. Families visiting the prison appreciated the support they received from this service, and spoke well of the prison staff who dealt with them during their visits. Highly popular family fun days and other events were organised on a regular basis.

The spiritual and pastoral needs of prisoners were well catered for, with an active and supportive faith team. The chaplains had built up trust and good relationships with prisoners and staff and had developed strong links with the mental health team.

The prison’s engagement with a range of partners in the community was noted and appreciated. In preparation for release, all prisoners were interviewed to identify any help they required. The Librite process supported the preparation of prisoners for their liberation. There were good links with third sector organisations and local authorities, particularly in West Lothian and Lanarkshire. Less support was available for prisoners returning to other areas of Scotland.

In conclusion

HMP Addiewell is well poised for its next era. Sodexo and the SPS have worked well to lay solid foundations for a positive future, foundations that must now be built on. Inspectors did identify areas requiring improvement or development and found that the Director and his team were responsive. Overall, the prison is on the cusp of a positive future if the momentum is maintained and the matters identified in this report are addressed.

Next steps

This report identifies a number of areas of good practice at HMP Addiewell, which I hope will be taken up by other prisons in Scotland. I look forward to seeing the action plan produced by HMP Addiewell in response to the findings in this report, and we will continue to monitor the implementation of the action plan in HMP Addiewell through Independent Prison Monitoring.

Wendy SinclairGieben
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland