HMP Addiewell Full Inspection

On 4 May 2023 a full inspection report of HMP Addiewell was published. It found that 40% of prisoners reported that they had been abused by staff' and was described by the Chief Inspector of Prisons, as the worst findings she had encountered during her term of office. This was followed by an article on 24 May published in The Ferret which alleged that the situation was even worse than the inspection reported, going on to detail dramatic under-reporting of violence due to fear of reprisals and poor management, with instances of complaints going missing, severe staff shortages and the “covering up” of violent incidents. 

Journey Times in Scotland's Criminal Justice System Report

On 20 April 2023 the Scottish Government published a report entitled, Journey Times in Scotland’s Criminal Justice System’. It found that the time from offence to sentencing had increased during the Covid pandemic: in the first 9 months of 2022-23, 'median journey times' were about 2 years and 10 months in the High Court (a rise of 71% pre Covid), 1 year and 5 months in Sheriff Solemn Court (55% rise), 11 months in Sheriff Summary Court (141% rise) and 10 months in the Justice of the Peace Court (82% rise). The starkest difference was the rise in waiting times for victims of sexual assault whose case goes to the High Court, with the median time in these cases being around 4 years.

Joint Review of Diversion From Prosecution

On 21 February 2023 a ‘Joint Review of Diversion from Prosecution’ was published by the Care Inspectorate; HM Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland; HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland; and HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland, which made 34 recommendations.

'Still Nothing to See Here' Follow Up Report

On 30 November 2022 a follow up report (‘Still Nothing To See Here’) from the University of Glasgow on Deaths in Custody and Fatal Accident Inquiries (FAIs) was published. It found that there were more deaths in Scottish prisons over the past 3 years than in any other 3 year period on record; that the chance of dying in prison in 2022 was twice that of someone who was in prison in 2008; and that there had been a 42% rise in suicides since SPS’ suicide prevention policy (TTM) was introduced.

It was followed on 14 December 2022 by a follow up report to the Independent Review of the Response to Deaths in Prison Custody: Progress Report, published by the Scottish     Government.

Scottish Parliament Pre-Budget Scrutiny

During November 2022, the Scottish Parliament Criminal Justice Committee took evidence on prison budgets as part of its Pre-Budget Scrutiny work. The proposal was that SPS should receive a flat cash budget for the next 4 years. The response to this was (unsurprisingly) negative. As just one example, Teresa Medhurst, SPS Chief Executive, stated that “there is no or at most, very limited, opportunity to the scaling back of our operations without significant risk to health and  welfare support, reputational damage, the loss of services and the risk to operational stability across the estate.” A corresponding scrutiny report was published by the Criminal Justice Committee on 9 December 2022.