Prisoners' entitlements are accorded them in all circumstances without their facing difficulty.
6.1 Prisoners' entitlements are accorded them at all times. Complaint forms are accessible and disciplinary procedures are fair and transparent. The chaplains are very well integrated into the life of the prison.
6.2 Prisoners have good access to prison rules in the houseblock 'hubs'. Legal text books are available in the library. Privileged Correspondence procedures are robust.
6.3 The Scottish Legal Aid Board holds surgeries twice a month. Two solicitors visit to help prisoners with civil cases. This is an area of good practice.
Management of Disciplinary Procedures
6.4 Disciplinary hearings are held in a room in the Separation and Care Unit. During the procedures observed all staff were seated and the hearings were conducted in a relaxed, non-confrontational manner. The adjudications are conducted by the SPS Controllers.
6.5 Adjudicators ensure that prisoners understand the charges, have enough time to prepare a defence and are ready for the hearing. All prisoners were offered a pen and paper to take notes. There was also a copy of the Prison Rules available and all prisoners were offered assistance if required. Disciplinary paperwork was completed appropriately.
6.6 The process followed and the reasons for decisions and awards were understood by prisoners. In all cases where a prisoner was found guilty, cognisance was taken of hall staff views and reports.
6.7 There are on average 201 hearings a month, of which 15% result in not guilty or case dismissed. The number of hearings is slightly less than in other comparable prisons although the percentage found not guilty or case dismissed is higher.
6.8 The two most prevalent charges are for threatening, insulting or abusive words or behaviour, and being in possession of unauthorised articles. These two charges far outweigh any other areas of indiscipline.
6.9 The Faith Team comprises a full-time Faith Team Leader, one part-time Church of Scotland Minister; one part-time Roman Catholic Minister; and one part-time Baptist Minister. Representatives of other faiths and community organisations such as Prison Fellowship Scotland also attend the prison on a voluntary basis to carry out acts of worship and provide pastoral care. The number of hours provided by the part-time chaplains was in the process of being increased.
6.10 Services take place as follows:
Roman Catholic Mass
6.11 An information leaflet on the services provided by the Faith Team and how to contact the team is available in the houseblocks and during induction. Prisoners are asked if they wish to register an alliance to a religion as part of the reception process, and if they do this is recorded on the SPS Prisoner Record System ( PR2).
6.12 The Faith Centre is fairly small, but adequate for the number of prisoners attending, which is low: during the week prior to inspection eight attended Mass and eight the non-denominational service.
6.13 Prisoners can ask to see a chaplain by putting their request on a general application form and giving it to an officer to pass to the Faith Services Office via the mail room. Staff can also refer a prisoner as can other departments such as social work and psychology.
6.14 The team tries to spend most of their time in the houseblocks and prisoners can also chat informally there or ask for a more private meeting.
6.15 The Faith Team is very well integrated into the life of the prison. The Team is represented on a number of groups including the ACT2Care Strategy Group, Family Strategy Group, ICM Group, Purposeful Activity Group and the Mental Health Group.
6.16 Overall, the Team feels very well supported, valued and trusted by Management. Although the number of hours available to the part-time staff had been low (six hours each for the Roman Catholic Minister and the Baptist Minister) these were in the process of being doubled. The Faith Team provides a good service to prisoners and makes a valuable contribution to the prison.
6.17 Despite considerable early difficulties in forming a Committee, there are now Visiting Committee ( VC) members representing North and South Lanarkshire and West Lothian. The Committee described excellent relationships with the Director and her senior team whom they meet bi-monthly. They also praised the Senior Management Team's rapid response to emerging problems whether systemic or operational. From a challenging beginning, the VC reports steady improvements in most areas across the prison.
6.18 Reference was made to the growing self- confidence of the staff whom the VC find to be enthusiastic and co-operative. They also observed an improvement in staff/prisoner relationships as the former gain experience.
6.19 On a less positive side, the VC expressed concern about healthcare service delivery and related this to a large turnover of healthcare staff, to their lack of familiarity with the prison environment and their inexperience in dealing with prisoners. A new healthcare manager had, however, recently been recruited and early indications are that change is being initiated.
6.20 Overall, the VC considers the prison to be decent, humane and respectful. They were particularly critical of some of the negative media coverage which they considered to be both inaccurate and unjustified.
Prisoner Complaints Procedure
6.21 Complaint forms are on display in the houseblocks, as are forms for accessing a member of the Visiting Committee. Prisoners reported no difficulty in accessing forms. Once a complaint is raised it is entered on PR2 which allows monitoring of timescales for CP1 forms 4, but not the quality of responses. However, there is a weekly review of the quality of responses by a unit manager. A review of CP2 5 paperwork indicated timely and appropriate responses.
6.22 The operation of the complaints system is included in the recruit training programme and there are also refresher courses.
6.23 The Internal Complaints Committee ( ICC) meets every Wednesday and hears an average of seven to eight complaints. This is similar to other comparable prisons. The committee is chaired by a unit manager, the compliance manager and a manager from another area.
6.24 A review of ICC paperwork indicates that prisoner complaints are given careful consideration and detailed reasons are given for the decisions. There is an appropriate balance between complaints which are upheld and those which are not.
6.25 There were over 4,000 complaints made between November 2009 and November 2010. Of these, 994 were confidential access to the Director, 933 were related to medical issues and 122 were appeals against Orderly Room decisions. There were no particular trends regarding the type or subject of the complaints, however in comparison with similar SPS prisons the numbers are about three times higher. This could be partly due to the inexperience of staff who may not have the knowledge required to answer queries or to resolve problems at an early stage.
6.26 The literature and information notices for the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (who now deals with complaints from prisoners) are displayed around the prison. Staff and prisoners were aware that this function had been taken over from the Scottish Prison Complaints Commissioner. Information is also relayed through the prisoners' televisions on the in-house information channel.
6.27 Staff demonstrated sound knowledge of how the CP system is intended to operate.
6.28 Overall, the prisoner complaints procedure is operating effectively and the evidence from the records suggests that it is transparent and fair. With growing experience among staff a reduction in the need for prisoners to enter the formal CP system might be anticipated.
Management of Segregation
6.29 The Separation and Care facility, (more commonly known in other prisons as the Segregation Unit), comprises 13 cells in total including a 'silent cell' and is located in a discreet area away from the houseblocks. Each cell is furnished to a basic standard and includes a wash hand basin and toilet. However, none of the cell doors has been fitted with a hatch through which items can be passed between staff and prisoners on those occasions when unlocking a cell door would represent a serious safety or health risk. The latter is potentially the case when prisoners undertake 'dirty protests' or are behaving in a dangerously aggressive way. Consideration should be given to providing all doors with hatches as an aid to risk management for staff.
6.30 There are showering facilities in the Unit and access to two small adjacent exercise yards. A kiosk is situated in the communal area for use by prisoners. The Unit also contains staff offices and the Orderly Room is held there on a daily basis. The facility is exceptionally clean and well-maintained.
6.31 There is a clear set of procedures in place for transferring prisoners into the Unit. Potential Rule 94 applications (for removal of prisoners from normal association) are submitted by a Residential manager to the on-site SPS Controllers for consideration. If the application is endorsed, then a decision is made on a case by case basis as to the prisoner's consequent location. Unless the Separation and Care Unit is at capacity though, Rule 94 prisoners are normally located there.
6.32 Prisoners routinely receive a copy of their Rule 94 application paperwork. They also receive a copy of the Unit's daily routine, rules and general information. The main reasons for admission to the Unit tend to be for subversive activities, serious breaches of discipline or protective care. Depending on their behaviour and response, prisoners can earn some privileges in addition to their basic entitlements.
6.33 Once located in the Unit and depending on their length of stay, prisoners are subject to regular case conferencing to monitor their progress and to prepare plans for their ultimate return to the mainstream. Prisoners are visited daily by healthcare staff and a manager and weekly by a doctor. Senior management visits are less frequent. Prisoners can see a Chaplain and other specialist staff such as social workers, on request. Prisoners who demonstrate mental health concerns are immediately referred to the Mental Health Team.
6.34 The records for all 12 prisoners in the Unit were scrutinised for the quality and comprehensiveness of entries. Although the Rule 94 paperwork was properly completed, individual files were incomplete and scrappy. The files contained a daily record of events such as the times of meals and exercise but no narrative entries to describe the prisoners' attitude, responsiveness, emotional state, behaviour or requests. Nor was there any record in each file or in a diary of shift handover comments and observations which means that important information is in danger of being overlooked. A review of the files should be undertaken and all relevant information and background details routinely included in them. Shift handover information should be detailed and readily accessible.
6.35 Staff in the Unit have been specially selected for their role and those to whom Inspectors spoke, had received training in control and restraint techniques, first aid, ACT2care and for a few, conditioning awareness. None, however, had received any specific training in the issues connected with managing and monitoring prisoners who are held out of association for sometimes extended periods. This should be addressed. It is understood that a conflict management module is currently in preparation and was due to be delivered shortly after the inspection. This initiative is to be welcomed.
6.36 All prisoners were visited and none had any complaint to make about their treatment by staff or about their conditions.
6.37 Overall, the Separation and Care Unit operates to an acceptable standard and staff manage prisoners there in a decent and professional manner.