HMIPS Liaison Visit to HMP/YOI Grampian

On 4 March 2021, HMIPS published their report on a Liaison Visit on 4 and 5 November 2020 to HMP/YOI Grampian, which advised that “the backlog in prisoners awaiting offender behaviour programmes is a serious concern; we urge the SPS HQ to address this as quickly as possible and continue to ramp up opportunities for progression across the prison estate”. Since then, a Liaison Visit to HMP Glenochil has highlighted the same concern: “The SPS and HMP Glenochil similarly need to develop a coherent plan to maximise availability and delivery of offender management programmes and address the assessment and programme backlog”. This a recurring theme which we highlighted in our recent letter to the Justice Committee. 

Review of Forensic Mental Health Services in Scotland Final Report

On 26 February 2021, the final report into the Review of Forensic Mental Health Services in Scotland was published. Echoing numerous calls from the NPM and HMIPS (including in the recent Liaison Visit to HMP Cornton Vale), it recommended that a high secure service should be opened for women in the State Hospital. Unusually, it gave a timescale for implementation, noting that this should be done within nine months of the report’s publication. We will be keeping a close eye on progress.

The Prisons and Young Offenders Institutions (Coronavirus) (Scotland) Rules

On 22 February 2021, secondary legislation to extend The Prisons and Young Offenders Institutions (Coronavirus) (Scotland) Rules until 21 September 2021 was laid. We wrote to the Justice Committee highlighting the lack of scrutiny involved in its drafting e.g. that the Policy Note had been written by SPS itself, with no wider consultation taking place and that HMIPS and SHRC had been merely advised, not consulted. Whilst lack of Parliamentary time gave the Committee little option but to pass the negative instrument, HLS was repeatedly quoted in the Justice Committee Meeting and our concerns have been passed to the Cabinet Secretary for comment.

Covid19 Court Restrictions Extended

On 12 February 2021, the Lord President announced that court restrictions across Scotland would be extended throughout March. He advised that criminal courts would continue to focus on the most serious trials, whilst the majority of summary trials in the Sheriff Court and Justice of the Peace Court would continue to be adjourned.

The Community Orders (Coronavirus)(Scotland) Regulations 2021

On 28 January 2021, The Community Orders (Coronavirus)(Scotland) Regulations 2021 were laid to reduce the outstanding number of unpaid work hours under existing Community Payback Orders by 35% (except those imposed for domestic abuse, sexual offences, or stalking). We wrote to the Justice Committee supporting the secondary legislation, but questioning the fairness and validity of the exclusions. The statutory instrument was passed.