Standards, Commentary and Quality Indicators
Standard 1 – Lawful and Transparent Custody
The prison complies with administrative and procedural requirements of the law, ensuring that all prisoners are legally detained and provides each prisoner with information required to adapt to prison life.
The prison ensures that all prisoners are lawfully detained. Each prisoner’s time in custody is accurately calculated; they are properly classified, allocated and accommodated appropriately. Information is provided to all prisoners regarding various aspects of the prison regime, their rights and their entitlements. The release process is carried out appropriately and positively to assist prisoners in their transition back into the community.
Overall Rating: Generally acceptable performance
The reception at HMP Addiewell was a well‑designed and laid out area that efficiently supported the admission and liberation process. In addition to a spacious main corridor; the holding rooms, interview rooms and searching area were well designed for purpose with no concerns for prisoners regarding their confidentiality or dignity being compromised.
Despite the reception team highlighting their inexperience, inspectors found staff to be professional, effective communicators, and most importantly very empathic to those coming through reception. The good relationship between staff and prisoners appeared natural and gave every indication that it was common practice. This was evident in all interactions observed with prisoners during the course of the inspection.
All transactional processes relating to the admission and release of prisoners were robust and met the required standards. Staff were observed to carry out processes that identified vulnerable groups, and Reception Risk Assessments (RRA) and Talk to Me (TTM) documentation was completed appropriately.
There was literature relating to aspects of the prison regime available in leaflet form and on noticeboards in holding areas. The leaflet was available in six of the most common languages of prisoners entering HMP Addiewell. In addition, there were sheets and posters to allow those with little to no English to highlight what their first language was and a telephone translation facility could be accessed where necessary.
The week‑long induction process was comprehensive and well attended, with commendable prisoner engagement in joint staff and peer‑led sessions. Further consideration of need was carried out through Core Screen and literacy and numeracy assessments. In addition, first links were established with the prison’s throughcare support, Librite. Bespoke induction information leaflets in English and six other languages were available in the induction area and provided a thorough overview of the prison regime, prisoners’ rights and entitlements and general information.
The liberation process positively facilitated the prisoner’s transition back into the community with decency and respect. The waiting area at the front of house was spacious and used well as a place for liberations to meet with family or support agencies.
For all of the good work that was evident, it was concerning that there were examples of poor practice which significantly undermined it. There was an over reliance on first night in custody leaflets to explain the prison regime, rights and entitlements and general information, rather than staff explaining them face to face. Few prisoners were observed receiving these leaflets and a few of those spoken to in the halls had not received it. This was of particular concern when considering that prisoners with little to no English were not routinely receiving this crucial information. Compounding this further was evidence that the translation line was used infrequently, and there was a practice of utilising prisoners to translate for other prisoners. There were examples where this approach had a direct impact on prisoners’ access to basic rights and entitlements within the regime. Finally, the Kiosk system (The Kiosk was in essence a touch‑screen computer that allowed a prisoner to undertake a number of activities and provided management with a means of sharing information quickly and widely with the prison population) had initial menu screens in a variety of languages, but when accessing links from the menu screens, English language pages opened.
HMP Addiewell operated a process for assessing the needs of prisoners during admission, particularly those most vulnerable. However, the establishment denied non‑English speakers and protection prisoner’s access to induction. A confusing aspect of this was that a comprehensive guide to the regime within the prison was available in a number of languages in the induction area, yet those prisoners who would benefit from this were not given the opportunity to attend.
Even more troubling was that protection prisoners were also denied a full regime within Douglas B hall, in order to accommodate a full regime for 10 ‘passmen’ and 12 mainstream prisoners whilst they were inducted into the prison.
The contrast of the experience of protection and mainstream prisoners was exemplified during an interview with two prisoners approaching liberation. A mainstream prisoner spoke about how he had been linked into the Librite process and other inputs at induction including allocation of a case manager, and had received support throughout his sentence, resulting in him having a business plan and support from community partners to assist him in opening his own business when liberated. He referred to his time in the prison, stating that the experience had changed his life. A protection prisoner reported not being offered the opportunity to attend induction, not being appointed a case manager and there was no support in place for release, despite requesting to speak to a case manager regarding this.
The overall assessment of this Standard was based on the fact that two of the most vulnerable and marginalised prisoner groups faced barriers to full participation in the admission and induction process. The systems and procedures that operated within HMP Addiewell created a regime whereby the basic rights and entitlements of these groups were significantly compromised. HMP Addiewell must take a proactive approach in engaging with and supporting prisoners who face barriers to full participation in the admission and induction process, in order to ensure that the individual needs and requirements of all prisoners are met.