Report finds Saughton inmates '˜spend too long in cells'

PRISON chiefs have been ordered to work harder to improve conditions for inmates inside HMP Edinburgh as part of a wide-ranging report into the standard of Scotland's jails.

Thursday, 2nd November 2017, 9:18 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 9:40 am
Pressure: The report highlights the problem of prisoners spending too long inside. Picture: Paul Faith/PA Wire

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland (HMIPS) said inmates at Saughton spent “too long” in their cells and criticised the standard of the jail’s solitary confinement unit as part of its annual report for 2016-17.

The report, produced by a group of Independent Prison Monitors (IPMs), assesses the quality of detention for inmates in prisons around the country.

An IPM inspection, carried out in March 2017, found HMP Edinburgh was “under pressure” with regards to space for prisoners and concluded it had “resulted in some prisoners being housed in areas they should be in”.

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It continued: “Subsequently IPMs have found that some people have not had access to the open air every day and spend long periods of time locked in their cells.”

The report said conditions in Saughton’s solitary confinement cell, also known as a separation and reintegration unit, rated “poor,” noting there was “no running water, no window and no toilet” in the facility.

A Scottish Prison Service (SPS) spokesman said: “Staff understand the challenges associated with getting 
prisoners out of their cells and work extremely hard to ensure all inmates have adequate time outside.”

The report also noted prisoners had raised concerns over “medication and timescales for accessing healthcare professionals,” but said the “majority” of cases had concluded prisoners were treated fairly.

In July 2016, an investigation was launched after 65 inmates signed a petition to SPS alleging “serious medical neglect” following the death of a fellow prisoner from organ failure.

Professor Alex McMahon, Nurse Director, NHS Lothian, said: “We are pleased that the report has concluded that prisoners have fair access to medicine and health professionals. NHS Lothian is committed to ensuring, that our healthcare standards are met through high quality, equitable services for all.”

Scottish Conservative MSP for Lothian Gordon Lindhurst said: “While prison is meant to be an opportunity for prisoners to rehabilitate and repay their debt to society, it’s important that they receive the appropriate care while behind bars.

“This report highlights several areas where HMP Edinburgh are falling short, and they need to address these issues as soon as possible.”