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 A corporate ‘vision’ has been replaced by a ‘strategic intent’ which aims to “deliver services in a way that is focused on being person-centred, inclusive, trauma-informed and rights based” and that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”.

Justice Analytical Services (JAS) Safer Communities and Justice Statistics Monthly Data Report

On 31 August 2023, Justice Analytical Services (JAS) Safer Communities and Justice Statistics Monthly Data Report August 2023 was published. It reports that the median time spent on remain is now 70 days, with 30% of those on remand spending more than 140 days in that status. Of those remanded into custody in July 2023 with known offence types, the most represented offences (by far) were common assault; crimes against public justice; and serious assault and attempted murder.

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. 

Scottish Sentencing Council: Statutory Offences of Causing Death By Driving Guideline

On 24 August 2023, the Scottish Sentencing Council finalised its first offence guideline on causing death by driving. It was approved by the High Court on 31 October 2023 and applies to all offenders who are convicted of a statutory offence of causing death by driving and are sentenced on or after 16 January 2024.