Justice and Safety

New Structure for Prison Monitoring in Scotland

September 1, 2015 by No Comments | Category Prisons

Over the past few months HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland has been on a journey of change, developing a new structure for prison monitoring in Scotland to replace the previous work done by Prison Visiting Committees.

This week, the first new Independent Prison Monitors go in to Scotland’s 15 prisons, to ensure humane treatment and conditions for prisoners. David Strang, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, describes the principles behind the new system, which came into force on Monday 31 August:

“Independent Prison Monitoring builds on the long tradition of representatives from Scotland’s communities visiting prisons to ensure the humane treatment and conditions of prisoners. The new system brings prison monitoring under my remit, complementing the separate prison inspection function.

“From this week, Independent Prison Monitors who are volunteers from local communities, will go to prisons on at least a weekly basis, to observe practice and to speak to prisoners about their experience. Information about conditions and treatment will be collected consistently across all 15 prisons in Scotland. This offers new scope to collate findings regionally and nationally to explore patterns and inform continuous improvement.

“The new system is supported by a team of 4 Prison Monitoring Co-ordinators, based within HMIPS, and an Advisory Group with expertise in human rights, criminology, prisons and healthcare.

“Another key benefit of the change is that the new system helps Scotland meet its obligations in terms of the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT). Independent Prison Monitoring will become part of the National Preventive Mechanism in the UK, a group of 20 monitoring and inspecting bodies who visit places of detention to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment.

“Most importantly, the introduction of the new system brings a new group of people, from a wide range of backgrounds, into Scotland’s prisons as the eyes and ears of the community. The commitment, motivation and enthusiasm of the growing team of new Independent Prison Monitors is remarkable, and I am confident that in the coming months and years, the new system will improve Scotland’s prisons, as well as informing best practice in independent monitoring to protect human rights”.

If you are interested in finding out more about Independent Prison Monitoring, please visit https://www.prisonsinspectoratescotland.gov.uk/monitoring or email prisonmonitoring@scotland.gsi.gov.uk.

Further reading:
Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) website

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