Scottish Government
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Greenock Prison report

Many aspects of Greenock prison which have been commended in previous inspectorate reports continue to be good, according to the latest report by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons published today.

The report by Dr Andrew McLellan, Chief Inspector at the time of the full inspection in May this year, highlights that:

  • The prison actively tries to ensure the safety of prisoners: both from self-harm and harm from other prisoners
  • The food and the arrangements for washing clothes are good. Prisoners also receive good access to exercise in the open air if they want it
  • Addictions services are well developed
  • Learning, Skills and Employability provision is good. However, prisoners in Ailsa Hall have limited access to activities
  • There are very good links with community organisations, and the community work placements for prisoners in Chrisswell House are excellent

The report also notes that:

  • Living conditions in Ailsa and Darroch Halls are not good: cells are cold and feel damp, and toilets in cells are only partially enclosed or not enclosed at all
  • The health centre is not fit for purpose, but care delivery itself is satisfactory. A proactive clinical mental health service is being delivered. Prisoners do not receive their daily medications, including methadone, prior to going to court
  • The preparation for the release of sex offenders is poor, although risk is monitored well
  • The conditions in Oban Sheriff Court are dreadful

John McCaig, Deputy Chief Inspector of Prisons, said:

"Many aspects of the prison have been commended in previous reports, and continue to be good. Prisoners are quick to identify the good relationships which exist between staff and prisoners, and the prison is safe.

"One part of the prison, Chrisswell House, holds long-term prisoners beginning their preparation for release. There are opportunities for some of them to take part in work placements in the community, which are very well organised and form a very useful part of training prisoners for life at the end of sentence. The Learning Centre provides a high standard of education. Addiction services are well developed.

"One development in particular deserves comment. A 'First Night Centre' has been established as a separate unit in Ailsa Hall. Arriving in prison can be very frightening, and careful thought has been given to the needs of such prisoners. The First Night Centre has a clear focus on care and safety.

"Although there is much to commend in Greenock Prison, there are also serious concerns. The toilet arrangements in Ailsa Hall and Darroch Hall are not good. The toilets in the cells have a small screen which offers little privacy from other prisoners if the cells are being shared, and no privacy from staff looking into the cell or entering it. In a few cells the toilet is completely unscreened.

"Until recently young offenders were held in Darroch Hall. Their experience was good. Now it is bad. The change of use of Darroch Hall means that these young men now live in Ailsa Hall, where their access to any kind of useful day is extremely limited. Indeed it is almost impossible for any prisoner to have access to a really useful day in Ailsa Hall because of the conflicting needs and demands of different groups of prisoners who cannot mix freely. Ailsa Hall is expected to make arrangements for at least six groups: adult lifers, adult long-termers, adult short-termers, convicted young offenders, young remands and adult remands.

"The change of use of Darroch Hall from young male offenders to female prisoners happened very quickly. There are some good early signs for the future of female prisoners in Greenock: but it is unacceptable that women should be required to wear clothing bought for young men!

"The report describes the conditions and treatment of prisoners under escort to certain courts. The conditions in which prisoners are held at Oban Sheriff Court are dreadful."

Scotland's prisons are subject to regular inspection. Today's report relates to a full inspection of Greenock prison, with a focus on the conditions in which prisoners live and on the way prisoners are treated.

This full inspection of Greenock was carried out by Dr Andrew McLellan before his retirement from the post of HM Chief Inspector of Prisons.

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