Prison Praised For Improvements

A prison which was once “notorious” for violence has been praised by inspectors for its improvements. Shotts Prison is “unrecognisable” from the institution where less than two decades ago clashes between staff and inmates were common, a report has said.

Scotland’s chief inspector of prisons highlighted safety improvements as a key factor in the improved stability at the prison.

The absence of overcrowding was also said to have been a critical factor.

An inspection published in 1994 quoted a Scottish Prison Service Prisoner Survey in which 40% of prisoners said they feared for their safety. This year the figure was 14%.

Chief prisons inspector Dr Andrew McLellan’s report, based on an inspection in February this year, praised the efforts by prison staff to cut violence in the institution.

His report said: “Less than 20 years ago an HMCIP report stated that ‘incidents of mass indiscipline and confrontation with staff became the norm’.

“That prison is unrecognisable today.”

He added that the “safe atmosphere” throughout Shotts was “remarkable in a prison that was once notorious for violence”.

The absence of cell-sharing at the prison was highlighted in the report.

“It is difficult to exaggerate the benefit when a prison holds the number of prisoners for which it was built,” Dr McLellan said.

However, the report contained concerns over the “poor practice” in suicide risk management.

An average of 26 prisoners a year have been subject to the Scottish Prison Service anti-suicide procedures, but there has not been a meeting of the Suicide Risk Management Group since February 2006.