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Effects of New Covid19 Variant

During January 2021 and in response to the increasing spread of the new variant of COVID-19 across Scotland, a number of measures were advised:

- the Lord President announced that criminal courts would focus on the most serious trials and the majority of summary trials in the Sheriff Court and Justice of the Peace Court would be adjourned. This was estimated to reduce the overall number of criminal trials taking place during lockdown by up to 75%

- Social Work Scotland announced that for the same reason, face to face unpaid work as part of CPOs would be suspended as part of the current lockdown

- HMIPS announced that they had taken the decision to suspend on-site monitoring and liaison visits to prisons and Court Custody Units - a decision that would be reviewed on a fortnightly basis.

HMIPS Liaison Visit to HMP Kilmarnock

On 12 August 2020, HMIPS published an inspection report on a Liaison Visit to HMP Kilmarnock. Much of it advised of activities to be re-commenced i.e. at planning, not implementation stage. Again, it advised “Whilst acknowledging that HMP Kilmarnock were providing more time out of cell than we had seen on previous liaison visits, along with allowing prisoners access to a phone while isolated under rule 41 (COVID-19), there is still a tension between the rights set out under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the restrictions having to be imposed”. We are concerned that prisoners' human rights are being breached and that this needs to be addressed directly. We are therefore raising this with HMIPS and partners in the criminal justice system.

HMP Dumfries Full Inspection

On 30 July 2020, a full pre-COVID inspection report on HMP Dumfries was published advising that there were no offence-focused programmes available on-site with long waiting lists for progression assessments and programmes. Given that there is currently no movement between sites this has serious implications for prisoners’ release and is something we will be following up.

HMIPS First Liaison Visit to HMP Addiewell

On 1 July 2020, HMIPS published a report on its COVID19 Liaison Visit to HMP Addiewell. Similarly to its findings from HMP Edinburgh, it had to be pointed out that those people in isolation should have access to fresh air and without this their human rights were being breached.

HMIPS First Liaison Visit to HMP Edinburgh

On 25 June 2020, HMIPS published its first COVID19 Liaison Visit report on its short inspection of HMP Edinburgh. It advised that things were being well-handled, although had to remind the Governor that those in isolation needed to be given the opportunity to access fresh air under the guidelines set out by HPS. It also advised that significant issues around mental and physical health were likely to resurface once lockdown was eased. 

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