Children are 'Innocent Victims' of imprisonment

Often we only think of children in realtion to prison by the number of new borns in Cornton Vale's mother and baby unity. However, as Alan Robertson points out in a detailed article in today's Holyrood Magazine, there are a great number of children who must cope with the traumatic loss of their parent through imprinsment and all the difficulties which that entails. As Cyrus Tata states, 'It simply isn't good enough for us to say as a society that children are some sort of collateral damage of parents’ offending'.

This is one of the most important aspects of women's prisons regimes that SPS must get right if Inverclyde is to live up to its promise of 'reflect[ing] a fresh approach to rehabilitation and wellbeing' of women prisoners.

Find out more:

impact of parent's imprisonment on children

PQ on Inverclyde Family Visiting Facilities



28 April 2014           

Index Heading: Learning and Justice

 Alison McInnes (North East Scotland) (Scottish Liberal Democrats): To ask the Scottish Government  what provision HMP Inverclyde will make for prisoners to receive private family visits from (a) children and (b) young relatives.


Mr Kenny MacAskill MSP:

I have asked Colin McConnell, Chief Executive of the Scottish Prison Service, to respond. His response is as follows:

“As you will be aware, HMP &YOI Inverclyde is currently in Design Phase. The Design Team’s brief is to focus on activities and play facilities that are suitable for mother and child to enjoy together. The Design Team are working towards providing a comfortable, relaxed and family/child friendly environment, designed to enhance the overall visit experience and encourage the maintenance of links with family and friends.

It is our intention that both indoor and outdoor play areas will be provided for visits with small children. The outdoor visits garden will be accessible by all visitors and additional arrangements will also be made to provide suitable activity for older children, such as access to age appropriate reading material and other suitable activities.

Once operational, it is our intention that the visit room will be used outside normal visiting times for bonding and other child visits. These arrangements will reflect the good practices already in place at HMP & YOI Cornton Vale.”


Proposal to end automatic early release

The Scottish government recently took submissions regarding their proposal to end automatic early release for those convicted of sexual offences and long term prisoners. 

HLS argue that the proposal would serve to reinforce the use of prison in lieu of more effective and less costly community-based supervision and rehabilitation.

The use of release on licence would be eradicated for those who had served their full sentence. This has two serious consequences. Firstly, a person released on licence is still under supervision and they can be recalled to prison upon any infringement of their licence conditions. However, if passed, these prisoners, identified as serious offenders, would be released without any requirment for supervision, thus the proposal carries potentially serious implications for public safety. As such, the function of early release allows prisoners to be monitored in the community which serves as a safeguard for the public. 

Secondly, it means that there would be no community based rehabilitation, which we know is more effective way of reducing reoffending for many prisoners, as well as serving to help people navigate the difficult post-release phase, which is all the more acute for long term prisoners.

HLS believes that the  proposal does not benefit the public or the prisoner - neither supporting safer communities or increased rehabilitation.

Read our full submission here: Howard League Scotland Proposals to end the automatic early release of certain categories of prisoner

Read the other submissions here

Prison Population - May 2014

Startling Differences in Regional Imprisonment Rates

Scotland already imprisons more people than almost all of our European neighbors (for more information on this see: International Centre for Prison Studies: Scotland)

However, looking at the regional per capita imprisonment rates below (measured per 100,000) the national average  reveals a startling link between high rates of imprisonment and rates of deprivation. We hear time and again that the pathway to imprisonment is paved by poverty and social exclusion, but it is always worth bluntly demonstrating the disparity and inequality of the lives of those people who end up caught in the cycle of the criminal justice system. Further, it highlights the limits of prison in reducing re-offending if we do not address crime as a matter of social policy.

  • Tayside 182
  • Angus 109
  • Dundee City 316
  • Perth & Kinross 105
  • South West Scotland 192
  • Dumfries & Galloway 122
  • East Ayrshire 242
  • North Ayrshire 235
  • South Ayrshire 181
  • Fife and Forth Valley 134
  • Clackmannanshire 187
  • Falkirk 153
  • Fife 117
  • Stirling 143
  • Glasgow City 348
  • Northern 110
  • Aberdeen City 173
  • Aberdeenshire 61
  • Eilean Siar 87
  • Highland 113
  • Moray 101
  • Orkney Islands 66
  • Shetland Islands 77
  • Lothian and Borders 113
  • East Lothian 66
  • Edinburgh, City of 133
  • Midlothian 96
  • Scottish Borders 71
  • West Lothian 114
  • Lanarkshire 203
  • North Lanarkshire 220
  • South Lanarkshire 185
  • Northern Strathclyde 159
  • Argyll & Bute 92
  • East Dunbartonshire 62
  • East Renfrewshire 65
  • Inverclyde 224
  • Renfrewshire 206
  • West Dunbartonshire 281

Source: Prison statistics Scotland 2010-11 publication