HMIPS Thematic Review of Segregation in Scottish Prisons

On 21 July 2023 HMIPS published its Thematic Review of Segregation in Scottish Prisons. It was a highly critical report, highlighting a raft of concerns at an individual and systemic level, with some very troubling findings including serious prisoner mistreatment at an unnamed prison. It also covered the issue of a lack of high secure beds for women in Scotland, linking it to the Independent Forensic Mental Health Review’s strong recommendation that this be actioned within 9 months of its 2021 report. SPICe (Scottish Parliament Information Centre) also published a briefing paper on Forensic Mental Health Services in Scotland, reiterating similar points.



HMP Greenock Full Inspection Report

On 14 July 2023 HMIPS published its full inspection report of HMP Greenock. Whilst it praised the leadership and management of the prison, highlighting what it described as “excellent staff-prisoner relationships” it did not shy away from serious criticism of the appalling state of the building which dates from the early 1900s. There are no plans as yet to replace it, with new issues arising re the previously confirmed rebuilding of HMP Barlinnie and HMP Inverness in terms of costs and timings.

Bail and Release from Custody (Scotland) Bill

On 22 June 2023 the Bail and Release from Custody (Scotland) Bill was passed by the Scottish Parliament. During its passage through Parliament much of the debate had focused on the proposed change to the ‘bail test’ which was opposed by victims’ groups and others. The Lord President advised that this would make the process cumbersome with no discernible difference to outcomes.  This view become stronger as the debate progressed. We had previously engaged extensively with the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, MSPs from all parties and policy teams regarding this legislation in the hope that, in particular, it could address Scotland's disproportionately high rates of remand.

Prison Mobile Phone Phase Out

On 29 May 2023 it was confirmed that prison-issued mobile phones introduced during the pandemic will be replaced on a phased basis over the coming months, with a new in-cell service being launched “by the summer”. Prisoners will be given 200 free minutes per month, which is down from the 300 minutes per month previously available. Additional calls are to be charged at 5p per minute. 

Prisoner Voting

On 4 May 2023 the Scottish Government published a report, ‘Prisoner Voting in Scottish Devolved Elections’. It reached the paradoxical conclusion that whilst it considers that “there is not at present sufficient data available to assess the impact of any potential change to the sentence threshold” it also “does not plan to revisit the 12-month threshold for prisoner voting”. We made unsuccessful attempts to engage with the Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee which was covering this.





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