Prisoners are held in conditions that provide the basic necessities of life and health, including adequate air, light, water, exercise in the fresh air, food, bedding and clothing.
2.1 The accommodation is clean, and the basic necessities are met. The food at the points of serving is not as good as at the point of cooking. Some of the clothing issued to prisoners, particularly denim trousers, needs to be improved.
2.2 The Prison. Barlinnie is Scotland's largest prison and services Europe's largest court (Glasgow Sheriff Court).
2.3 The prison has a design capacity of 1019, and on the first day of inspection held 1477 prisoners. There are six main residential areas and a Segregation Unit. The main Halls each hold between 275 and 350 prisoners. There is also a Segregation Unit which is a Scotland-wide resource.
2.4 Prisoners Held. Barlinnie holds adult male remand prisoners awaiting trial; adult male convicted prisoners sentenced to up to 4 years; around 120 sex offenders; up to 90 long-term prisoners who are awaiting dispersal to a long-term establishment following sentencing or who have been returned to prison following a breach of a licence condition; and up to 13 individuals being held in segregation who may be from any establishment in Scotland.
2.5 On the first day of inspection the prisoner population was as follows:
|Convicted Awaiting Sentence||65|
|Recalled Life Prisoners||6|
|Prisoners Awaiting Deportation||6|
|Sentenced Young Offenders||1|
2.6 Overcrowding affects the daily running of the prison.
2.7 Prisoners Held. On the day of inspection 'A' Hall held 282 prisoners. The Hall is made up of a mix of long and short-term convicted prisoners and overspill remand prisoners from 'C' Hall.
2.8 Facilities. There are 187 cells over four floors. A staff office on each floor allows prisoners access to various paperwork such as complaint forms and visits information.
2.9 The bottom floor contains the Hall manager's office along with the main staff desk which also acts as the first point of contact when entering the Hall. There is also an interview room and a healthcare room. Also located on the bottom floor are four anti-ligature cells and a cell for disabled prisoners.
2.10 Showers are located on every floor with six on the bottom and eight on the others. Also located on each of the upper floors are exercise rooms fitted with cardiovascular equipment.
2.11 An adequate number of telephones are located on each floor, all of which have noise reducing hoods.
2.12 Recreation is provided in a separate area accessed via a small corridor. Facilities for recreation are adequate. Telephones are also available in this area.
2.13 Conditions. The cells in 'A' Hall have a toilet cubicle, separate sink, shelf unit, table and power point with a television and kettle. There are bunk beds in each cell and two small lockable safes.
2.14 Cell windows are small and covered with a grille. Some prisoners try to improvise a curtain from towels or pillow covers. Light and ventilation from the windows are poor.
2.15 The overall standard of the cells in terms of maintenance and decor is basic. Although it is evident that staff monitor the state of general repair for each cell, guideline interpretation for poster location and poster content was variable. The communal areas are brighter and in better condition.
2.16 Of concern was the availability of cell cleaning time. Although cleaning equipment is in place both inside and outside the cells, prisoners have different views about when they are able to properly clean their cells. Some said they thought they could clean every day while others complained they only got the chance once a week. This confusion was the same for access to showers. When asked, staff said the routine was for cell cleaning every day, but this was very much affected by numbers.
2.17 The exercise area is beside the Hall and is large enough to accommodate all exercise sessions. All prisoners in 'A' Hall are offered a period of one hour per day time in the fresh air. There was no weatherproof clothing available when the weather was bad.
2.18 Prisoners Held. 'B' Hall has 180 cells over four floors. On the first day of inspection 'B' Hall held 283 prisoners. The Hall holds short-term prisoners, and a small number of long-term prisoners awaiting transfer to a long-term prison.
2.19 Facilities. Each level has four distinct 'sections' with 12 cells in each section. There are six 'safer cells' all located on the ground floor. There is one cell for use by prisoners with a disability, again located on the ground floor level.
2.20 At the end of each accommodation level there are recently refurbished shower facilities. The shower facilities on levels two and three have been made slightly smaller to allow for a small multi-gym facility to be set up. Prisoners are given access to a shower once every two days. They should have access to a shower every day. The exceptions to this are those prisoners who attend work or have had access to the multi-gym. They are offered a shower every day.
2.21 Conditions. The standard of accommodation in 'B' Hall is acceptable. Communal areas including showers and serving facilities are clean and free from obstruction. Décor in the communal areas is of a good standard and ventilation is adequate.
2.22 Each cell has a toilet and electric power. The cells are well decorated and free from graffiti. Posters in the cells are generally limited to the poster boards provided and images are generally not such as to cause offence to others. There are safety rails on top bunks and a secure means by which prisoners can access these bunks. There are personal safes in all cells. All prisoners have a chair and a television. Light, ventilation, fixtures and furniture in the cells are adequate. Mattresses are in good condition and there is a regular laundry service for all clothing and bedding items. There is a sink with hot and cold water in each cell. Prisoners are afforded the opportunity to sweep out and clean their cell every day. Cleaning materials are provided.
2.23 There are 15 telephones in the Hall spread over the four floors. Access to the telephones is adequate and provided on an as requested basis. Prisoners seemed content regarding access although reported that the telephone hoods did not block out noise, making it difficult to conduct a conversation.
2.24 Recreation is facilitated in the 'Activity Centre' which is a purpose made facility adjacent to the Hall. The area is clean and in good repair. Equipment in the area is in very good condition and there were no waiting times for prisoners to play pool, snooker, table tennis and football.
2.25 All prisoners in 'B' Hall are offered a period of one hour per day time in the fresh air. The exercise area is located to the side of the Hall. The facility is clean and free from obstruction and is adequately supervised by staff. There are shelters for staff. During the period of the inspection the weather was bad, but prisoners were not issued with weatherproof jackets. Weatherproof clothing should be offered to prisoners who attend exercise during bad weather.
2.26 If a prisoner does not have a work activity or is not involved in any other out of Hall activity, then he can expect to spend long periods of time locked in his cell. Consideration should be given to increasing out of cell time on purposeful activity for prisoners in 'B' Hall.
2.27 Complaint forms were readily available in the Hall.
2.28 Prisoners Held. On the first day of inspection 'C' Hall held 284 remand prisoners in 190 cells on four floors. The configuration of the Hall and the conditions are the same as in 'A' Hall.
2.29 Safer Cells. Also located on the bottom floor are six 'safer cells'. These cells are deemed safer because they have been altered with consideration to ligature points. However, they have little in the way of comfort due to a lack of furniture, power and ventilation. None of the cells have high mounted corner mirrors to assist in the observation of prisoners, nor was there evidence of the use of 'electronic pegging' as proof of observation, particularly important given the importance yet poor specification of these cells. It is recommended that the 'safer cells' in 'C' Hall are upgraded to full 'anti-ligature cells'.
2.30 Prisoners Held. 'D' Hall was one of the first halls to be upgraded in the prison. The Hall is divided into four separate units which allows for a mixture of regimes. On the first day of inspection the Hall held 234 prisoners. The Hall holds a mix of long-term and short-term prisoners, sex offenders and vulnerable prisoners with mental health issues.
2.31 Conditions. Each of the four units was clean and bright with both levels in each unit providing good access to showers. Prisoners in all four units can access the showers every day. The communal ablution areas are well laid out with soap dispensers and hand towels.
2.32 Each cell has a toilet and electric power. The cells are well decorated and free from graffiti. Posters in the cells are generally limited to the poster boards provided and poster images are generally not such as to cause offence to others. There are safety rails on top bunks and a secure means by which prisoners can access these bunks. There are personal safes in all cells. All prisoners have a chair and a television. Light and ventilation are fully compliant with the recognised standards. Fixtures and furniture in the cells are adequate.
2.33 Prisoner notices were available and up-to-date. Complaint forms were readily available.
2.34 At the time of the inspection one of the lower units held sex offenders and some prisoners who were vulnerable due to the nature of their offence. The adjacent High Dependency Unit ( HDU) held prisoners who were deemed to have a 'high dependency' relating to a number of factors including drugs, alcohol and poor metal health. The upper units held mainstream prisoners serving short-term sentences. Approximately 50% of short-term prisoners held had access to work.
2.35 Prisoners who are not working or accessing other activities can spend long times locked in their cell.
2.36 Access to recreation in 'D' Hall is facilitated in each of the units. There are pool and table tennis tables located on the lower floor of each unit. Prisoners receive between 30 and 45 minutes recreation each evening.
2.37 When not at recreation prisoners are locked in their cells. The reason given was to ensure the numbers at recreation at any one time were manageable. These arrangements mean that some prisoners in 'D' Hall can spend long periods locked in their cells. Consideration should be given to increasing out of cell time and access to activities for all prisoners in 'D' Hall.
2.38 All prisoners in 'D' Hall are offered a period of one hour each day time in the fresh air. The exercise area is located to the side of the Hall. Exercise periods are adequately supervised. There are shelters for staff. During the period of the inspection the weather was bad, but prisoners were not issued with weatherproof jackets. Weatherpoof clothing should be issued to prisoners who attend exercise during bad weather.
2.39 The exercise facility was free from obstruction. However, at the time of inspection the area below the cell windows was littered with food waste and other items.
2.40 Prisoners Held. On the first day of inspection 'E' Hall held 252 prisoners in 175 cells on four floors. This was a mix of prisoners who had been admitted to the prison that day on the top floor and protection prisoners on the other floors.
2.41 First Night in Custody Centre. The top floor of 'E' Hall is the First Night in Custody Centre (see paragraphs 3.21-3.24). This particular area was very well run and clean.
2.42 Conditions. The rest of the Hall shared the same characteristics as the other Halls but, overall, 'E' Hall was cleaner and in better condition.
2.43 Prisoners Held and Conditions. Letham Hall is a prefabricated Hall which opened in 1996. It currently holds low supervision prisoners. The Hall has 76 cells over two floors. There were 131 prisoners being held in the Hall on the first day of inspection. There are three sections on each floor. There are no in cell sanitation facilities, although there is good provision of, and access to, ablution areas in each section throughout the day and night. Letham Hall provides open access for all prisoners to all Hall facilities during the day. During the Night Patrol period, grille gates separate each section allowing staff to patrol the Hall and prisoners to access the showers and toilets. The lower centre section of Letham Hall has toilet facilities suitable for prisoners with a disability.
2.44 Cell windows are adequate and allow a good quality of ventilation and light, although prisoners complained that at times the heating was excessive. Prisoners can hang curtains in their cells. Having open access to sanitation during the night means that there are no toilets required in the cells. Cells are therefore slightly bigger than those in other Halls, allowing more space to move about. The cells were clean.
2.45 Mattresses are in good condition and there is a regular laundry service for all clothing and bedding items.
2.46 There is a good fitness room, and a room which provides prisoners with the opportunity to play various games including snooker, pool and table tennis. There is also a television in this area.
2.47 The is an adequate number of telephones in the Hall, and prisoners can access one of these at any time. Although not to the same extent as in other Halls, prisoners expressed concerns about the unsuitability of the hoods in blocking out background noise.
2.48 The exercise area is at the front of the Hall and can be accessed at any time of the day. The area is clean, spacious and free from obstruction. There is a minimal requirement of supervision of prisoners in this area.
2.49 Letham Hall has two classrooms and two interview rooms both of which are used by internal and external service providers on a regular basis.
2.50 The Hall is busy and the length of time prisoners choose to spend in their cells is up to them. With the Hall being busy there is a lot of movement in all areas throughout the day and night. As a result, and despite efforts to keep the Hall clean, the fabric is becoming worn, especially in the showers and toilet areas. Communal areas in Letham Hall should be refurbished.
2.51 Criteria for Letham. Amongst other criteria, prisoners deemed suitable to be held in Letham Hall must be of low supervision and 'fit for work'. However, there are several prisoners in other Halls who have been assessed as low supervision, but who are unfit for work due to a disability or infirmity. These prisoners would be deemed unsuitable for transfer to Letham Hall despite there being facilities for them. The criteria for access to Letham Hall should be reviewed with a view to allowing the transfer of prisoners with a disability.
2.52 Prisoners in Letham Hall have a greater control over their daily lives than prisoners in other areas of the prison. There is less need for prisoners to approach staff and as a result less interaction between prisoners and staff. During the inspection prisoners expressed frustration regarding what they described as an environment where 'downgrade' was used as a negative incentive to comply. More positive staff/prisoner interaction should be encouraged in Letham Hall.
2.53 Staffing. The kitchen is staffed by 10 catering officers, one stock controller and two catering managers. It employs 50 prisoners, with around 37 working at any one time. Given that the prisoners working in the kitchen are serving short sentences there is no opportunity provided to gain formal qualifications. However, two prisoners had recently been offered jobs with local hotels. The kitchen has achieved a Healthy Living Award and the two managers were awarded a Butler Trust for their work.
2.54 The Kitchen. The kitchen is large and meets the needs of the prisoner population.
2.55 The Menu. The menu works on a three weekly cycle and prisoners make their choice one week in advance. Winter and summer menus are in place. A separate menu for Muslim prisoners also works on a three weekly basis. The menus cater for all special diets including diabetic, vegan, vegetarian and gluten free. A choice of fruit is available for most meals. A food focus group meets four times each year.
2.56 Meal Times. Food preparation begins at 06:30 and breakfast is served at 07:00 hrs, lunch at around 12:00 hrs and an evening meal at 17:00 hrs. These arrangements are in place seven days a week.
2.57 The food is transported to the Halls in heated trolleys and is kept in these trolleys for as short a time as possible. Although the food does deteriorate somewhat it is still of a good quality when prisoners receive it.
2.58 Overall, the catering arrangements work very well.
2.59 The arrangements for prisoners' canteen are 'bag and tag'. Prisoners have access to the canteen twice a week. The system is flexible and allows for canteen to be provided for new admissions and prisoners returning from court. There is also an 'advance' service provided for prisoners admitted on Friday's and Saturday's.
2.60 The canteen is well stocked, clean and well organised. Orders are processed individually and checked against the canteen sheet completed by the prisoner.
2.61 Evidence was provided of a regular review of canteen prices. During the inspection all canteen items were priced at a level on or below the recommended retail prices. It was accepted that some items would be less expensive in some local shops and some more expensive. There was nevertheless a perception amongst prisoners that canteen prices were high.
2.62 Each Hall has been provided with a booklet describing all canteen items on offer. There are colour pictures of each item and the name of each product listed in 10 different languages. The booklet was introduced to ensure better access to canteen services for foreign national prisoners and prisoners with literacy issues. The canteen booklet is an item of good practice.
Clothing and Laundry
2.63 Equipment. The laundry has benefited from investment in equipment since the last inspection. Several new machines have been installed and all machines were working.
2.64 Staffing. There are two Laundry officers on duty at any one time and the service is overseen by the Facilities First Line Manager. Staff had been trained and they were knowledgeable regarding the process.
2.65 The laundry employs two groups of 25 protection prisoners on an 'early', 'late' and 'long' shift basis Monday to Friday. All prisoners are given an induction followed by 40 hours workplace training. Although the work carried out offers access to valuable work experience there are no formal qualifications offered to prisoners working in the laundry.
2.66 Access. There is a fairly robust process for the issue and return of laundry items. Each prisoner receives a full kit including two tops, a sweatshirt and one pair of denims. Underwear and socks are sent to the laundry in personalised washable laundry bags. They are sealed by the prisoner before being sent to the laundry. Laundry staff provided examples where bags are over-filled or poorly secured. In such instances these bags may open in the wash or drying process. Any open bags would be refilled and resealed before returning to the halls. Once washed and sorted the laundry is placed in trolleys in a passageway outside the laundry waiting to be collected and delivered.
2.67 However, there had been several complaints from the Halls regarding missing items. The handling of laundry being returned to two Halls was observed during the inspection. In both Halls 'passmen' were left to their own devices when sorting out and returning the small laundry bags to the prisoners. This part of the process was not supervised and was open to abuse. The process of returning small laundry bags to the Halls should be reviewed.
2.68 Condition of Clothing. Prisoners are issued with only one pair of denim trousers. These are exchanged on a weekly basis. Prisoners could wear the same trousers for a week including when attending work and visits. Often replacement denims were either ill-fitting or had unreliable 'velcro' fastenings (instead of zips), which prisoners found to be embarrassing as they would not remain fastened. Consequently, where possible, prisoners reported holding onto a pair of denims which fitted them and were in a decent condition rather than engage in the laundry process, choosing to wash these in the sink in their cell and drying them on the pipes. This should stop and prisoners should be provided with decent denim trousers.