Virtual Visits and Mobile Phones in Scottish Prisons

Virtual Visits and Mobile Phones in Scottish Prisons

During June 2020, virtual prison visits were belatedly rolled out across the prison estate. This followed the Cabinet Secretary for Justice's announcement on 24 March 2020 that alternative means of family contact would be made available in lieu of face to face visits, which were suspended on 23 March 2020. The Council of Europe's European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) isssued their Statement of Principles relating to the pandemic on 20 March 2020, which read: "While it is legitimate and reasonable to suspend non-essential activities, the fundamental rights of detained persons during the pandemic must be fully respected.... Further, any restrictions on contact with the outside world, including visits, should be compensated for by increased access to alternative means of communication (such as telephone or Voice-over-Internet-Protocol communication.)

Mobiles were first made available at HMP Cornton Vale on 15 June 2020. The roll out of mobile phones to other prisons, and of a hard-wired in-cell option in HMP Kilmarnock, was hindered by "technical difficulties" and took some months. During this period it was announced that the budget previously earmarked for an in-cell phone pilot scheme in HMP & YOI Polmont would no longer go ahead.

Category Prisons

Archive

2020

2018

2015

2014

2006