News

HMIPS First Liaison Visit to HMP Addiewell

On 1 July 2020, HMIPS published a report on its COVID19 Liaison Visit to HMP Addiewell. Similarly to its findings from HMP Edinburgh, it had to be pointed out that those people in isolation should have access to fresh air and without this their human rights were being breached.

HMIPS First Liaison Visit to HMP Edinburgh

On 25 June 2020, HMIPS published its first COVID19 Liaison Visit report on its short inspection of HMP Edinburgh. It advised that things were being well-handled, although had to remind the Governor that those in isolation needed to be given the opportunity to access fresh air under the guidelines set out by HPS. It also advised that significant issues around mental and physical health were likely to resurface once lockdown was eased. 

Disclosure (Scotland) Act

On 10th June 2020 the Disclosure (Scotland) Bill was passed, with the Disclosure (Scotland) Act  receiving Royal Assent on 14th July 2020. We were very supportive of legislation which reduced the barriers to employment for those people with convictions and in both written and oral evidence had argued that a more individualised approach could be taken to both adults and children. Much of the debate around the Bill's passing was concerned with what constituted 'other relevant information' and how the legislation could work alongside both Management of Offenders and the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility statutes. As is often the case, we were pleased with the direction of travel taken here, but would like to have seen a more nuanced line and consistently proportionate approach. 

HMIPS: Remote Monitoring and Liaison Visits

From June 2020, Liaison Visit Reports were published by HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland. These were informed by the Remote Monitoring Framework and Liaison Visits Framework. The first report on a Liaison Visit to HMP Edinburgh was published on 25 June 2020. It advised that the prison was managing the COVID19 situation well, however, a reminder was required that those in isolation needed to be given the opportunity to access fresh air under the guidelines set by Health Protection Scotland (HPS). It also advised that significant issues around mental and physical health were likely to resurface once regime restrictions were eased.

The human rights imperative of access to fresh air for those people in isolation also required to be flagged during a later Liaison Visit to HMP Addiewell.

All reports can be accessed here.

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.

Pages

Archive

2021

2020

2018

2015

2014

2006