HMIPS Full Inspection of HMP Perth

On 05 October 2023, HMIPS published its full inspection of HMP Perth. Yet again serious concerns were raised including overcrowding; cell-sizes which don’t meet Council of Europe Anti-Torture Committee agreed standards and the poor condition of the buildings. The pre-inspection report’s findings didn’t always chime with the findings of the main inspection, however, it did contain some worrying findings: 57% of respondents reported having witnessed staff members abusing, threatening, bullying or assaulting another prisoner and 36% reported                      experiencing this themselves; whilst of those who were due for release in the next 6 weeks, 56% said that they did not feel well prepared for a life outside prison; 73% of them also said that they were not getting the help they need to set up support for their mental health upon their release.

HMIPS Annual Report 2022-23

On 13 September 2023, HMIPS published its Annual Report 2022-23. It included frustration at the need for oft-repeated concerns around over-crowding; the poor condition of the prison estate; deaths in custody; staffing levels impacting the daily regime; and lack of access to healthcare, especially mental health support. It also noted that “despite lifting of restrictions Scottish prisons have not as yet managed to return to pre-pandemic activity levels”. It referenced a new inspection framework for the women's community custody units (CCUs), although no other details appear to be available on this.

SPS Corporate Plan 2023 - 2028

On 01 September 2023, SPS published its Corporate Plan 2023 – 28. Overall its tone is noticeably less optimistic than the previous one: only one mention of ‘Unlocking Potential and Transforming Lives’ for example. A corporate ‘vision’ has been replaced by a ‘strategic intent’ which aims to “deliver services in a way that is focused on being person-centred, inclusive, trauma-informed and rights based” and that “better promote(s) the health, safety and wellbeing of all people who live in Scotland’s prison system”.

Deaths in Prison Custody in Scotland 2012-2022

On 30 August 2023, the Scottish Government published a report entitled, ‘Deaths in Prison Custody in Scotland 2012-2022’. It’s the data and evidence produced by the Deaths in Prison Custody Action Group (DiPCAG) which was set up to provide independent oversight and leadership to the implementation of the recommendations of the Independent Review of the Response to Deaths in Prison Custody. It found that 350 people died in prison in Scotland between 2012 and 2022, with the death rate having more than trebled over that period.

The Chairperson of DiPCAG, Gill Imery, gave evidence to the Criminal Justice Committee on the report on 20 September 2023. She was very critical of the lack of progress and of SPS’s attitude to her group’s work. 

Associations Between Significant Head Injury in Male Juveniles in Prison in Scotland UK and Cognitive Function, Disability and Crime

On 12 July 2023, a cross-sectional study by Glasgow University researchers entitled, ‘Associations Between Significant Head Injury in Male Juveniles in Prison in Scotland UK and Cognitive Function, Disability and Crime’ was published. The research was carried out with 103 participants from HMP/YOI Polmont. It found that whilst there was no difference in offending between those with and without significant head injury (SHI), signs of poorer behavioural control and greater psychological distress in juveniles with SHI suggests that they may be at greater risk of reoffending and of potentially becoming lifelong offenders. This implies a need for corresponding “remedial programmes” to take this into account.





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