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HM Inspectorate of Prisons: Report on HMP Inverness: Unannounced Full Inspection, 5-9 November 2007




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 Not fully met. The basic necessities of life are provided although some of the accommodation is very poor and some cells have no window leading to a lack of light and fresh air. The food is amongst the best in the SPS, the prisoners' shop is very good, and the laundry arrangements are also very good.


2.2 Inverness is overcrowded. The establishment has a design capacity of 104. On the first day of the inspection 148 prisoners were unlocked.

2.3 The population was as follows:

By Hall





By Wing











By Classification

Adult Convicted




Young Offender


Female Remand


Female Convicted




2.4 Two of the 148 prisoners were foreign nationals.

Accommodation Areas

2.5 There are six residential units and two separate cells in an annex adjacent to 'B' hall.

'A' Hall

2.6 'A' hall houses adult and young remand prisoners and convicted young offenders awaiting transfer to Polmont. The hall consists of two floors each with seven cells. There is a dormitory on the second floor with six beds, four of which were occupied at the time of inspection. The dormitory has a toilet and shower area. Each bed has a locker, none of which lock. Small metal windows allow adequate light and fresh air. There is a small room off the dormitory and at the time of inspection this room was empty.

2.7 All cells are single with bunk beds. Each cell has a toilet which is enclosed in a cubicle. A large window allows in adequate light and ventilation. All cells have two chairs and two metal cabinets which no longer lock.

2.8 Many of the curtains are torn and held in place by various improvised means. These should be replaced. All cells have electric power and television. Prisoners are required to eat in their cells but there are no tables. Each cell has a vanity unit but there is no space to hang clothes.

2.9 There are two showers available at the end of the second floor. These are clean and offer adequate opportunity for privacy. On the bottom floor there is a room with a pool table which is available at recreation times.

'B' Hall

2.10 'B' hall houses vulnerable, remand and convicted prisoners. It has three floors, and is an open gallery design with a safety net. It has the capacity to hold 88 prisoners. On the day of inspection 80 prisoners were unlocked. Staff spoke of recent overcrowding when 100 prisoners had been held. The ground floor holds vulnerable prisoners, the second floor remand prisoners and the third floor convicted prisoners. All cells are double occupancy and have toilet facilities and in-cell power. There are two observation cells on the ground floor. Shower facilities are available on each floor.

2.11 A selection of referral and complaints forms was readily available on all floors.

2.12 A central food servery is located on the ground floor where all prisoners are served their lunch and dinner. This is overseen by staff. The association areas were clean and tidy. Prisoners eat all meals in their cells.

2.13 The standard of some of the accommodation is very poor, particularly the ground and second floor. The third floor had recently been refurbished, although there was evidence that paint on window sills was beginning to crack and peel, and graffiti was evident on newly refurbished walls. The second floor had just started to be refurbished at the time of the inspection. Walls were covered in graffiti. Curtains in some cells were little more than rags, and a number of mattresses were stained or had been written on. These should be replaced.

2.14 Individual lockable storage was available in all cells. However in the majority of cells this storage had been positioned above the prisoner's table and chair. The cabinet edges are very sharp and appeared dangerous. Of all the cells inspected only one of these cabinets had secure fastening: a number were already broken or the prisoner did not know they had to ask for a lock.

2.15 Adjacent to the hall on the first floor is the multifunctional recreational area, which doubles as a Links Centre and Chapel. The canteen and library is also situated here. The area has two enclosed red telephone boxes. A variety of recreational material is available: table tennis, pool, television and play station games.

2.16 Convicted prisoners are able to access the recreation area every evening. Remand prisoners have access every second evening, alternating with 'A' hall remand prisoners. Vulnerable prisoners access recreation in 'A' hall Recreational Area every other night. However it was evident at the group induction on the Friday morning that a number of remand prisoners who had been in the prison for up to five days had yet not had the opportunity to access this recreational area. When asked why this was the case they had been told that it "was due to high remand numbers".

'C' Wing

2.17 'C' wing houses convicted prisoners, specifically the library passman and other passmen. 'C' wing can accommodate 11 prisoners. At the time of inspection the wing was full. It contains nine single cells and one dormitory area for two prisoners. A number of these jobs available to these prisoners are not full time with prisoners being returned to the wing before lunch time.

2.18 All cells have integral sanitation and electric power. There is no telephone. Prisoners have to be taken to 'B' hall recreational area to use the telephone. This can cause problems, particularly when staff are unavailable or when prisoners are not getting access to recreation due to work commitments.

2.19 There is lack of natural light in the dormitory area. There is no window, although there is a sky light. Ventilation in this area is also very poor. A fan is situated high up on the wall which works when the electricity is on. When the power is turned off at around 1.30 am this cell becomes hot and stuffy. It is recommended that the electricity is not turned off at night in the dormitory area in 'C' wing.

2.20 There is a central shower facility with two showers. This area also stores mops and buckets which are for use in the female wing.

2.21 A central sitting area is also used as a recreational area. This is furnished with cane furniture. The furniture is discoloured, stained and well past its best. One of the couches was broken. This furniture should be replaced. The windows in this area are metal framed and a number could not be closed properly. The sitting area was very cold during the inspection.

2.22 There is a lack of availability of referral or complaints forms in 'C' wing. This should be addressed.

'D' Wing

2.23 'D' wing houses low supervision prisoners. It is the worst accommodation in the prison. There are seven rooms of varying sizes, all with electric power and televisions. In three of the rooms there are no windows to allow natural light and ventilation and this adds to the problem of a disagreeable odour which permeates the area. The accommodation consists of four rooms with single occupancy, two rooms with double occupancy and a dormitory with two bunk beds. The dormitory, one of the single and one of the double rooms have no windows. There is an en-suite shower in the windowless single room and there are signs of dampness on the walls and ceilings. Some rooms have no storage or hanging space for clothes or personal belongings. It is recommended that the accommodation in 'D' wing is improved and that cells without windows should not be used.

2.24 A small sitting room is situated at the opposite end of the corridor from the entrance door. This room is equipped with soft seating, a television and some dining chairs. There is a table and a small book case. Some prisoners dine in this area but not all can sit around the table with the consequence that many rest their meals on their knees while watching TV.

2.25 Prisoners have keys to their own door and have free access to all inside areas 24 hours per day. Not all rooms have en-suite toilets but there is access to a communal toilet.

2.26 Mattresses, pillows and bedding are clean and there are regular opportunities to change sheets and pillow slips.

2.27 A small kitchen with a washing machine is located close to the entrance door. Meals are served from this area and prisoners use the washing machine to do their own laundry. Prisoners in this area have access to a small outdoor yard every day during periods of unlock. Prisoners are usually located in 'D' wing close to their liberation date and as a consequence most have no job. Depending on the demand for spaces however, some prisoners can be located in this area for several months.

'E' Wing

2.28 'E' wing houses convicted low security passmen and cooks. The wing has the capacity to hold 15 prisoners. Thirteen were unlocked on the first day of inspection. There are two single cells, one of which is used by the wing passman. This cell does not have an enclosed toilet (also see paragraph 6.21). It is recommended that all toilets in cells should be enclosed. The other single cell has a disabled toilet (but no shower); however entry to the cell is not wide enough to allow wheelchair access. There are three cells which hold three prisoners (in a bunk bed and a single bed) and two cells which hold four prisoners (in two sets of bunk beds). All of these have enclosed toilets. At the end of the wing there are two showers, one of which is suitable for disabled prisoners.

2.29 At the entrance of the wing there is a small recreation area which has a pool table and television. There is a small kitchen area with a kettle, sink and fridge. There was an array of literature and information on the notice board, although these need to be updated. Complaints forms, health centre referral forms and racial incident reports were all available but had obviously been there for some time.

2.30 The wing itself was clean, although a number of cells were very smoky and need to be cleaned. A telephone is available in this area.

Female Unit

2.31 The female unit houses prisoners of all categories: adult, young offender, convicted and remand. It is situated on two floors. Dormitory accommodation in three cell areas is situated on the top floor. This can hold a total of 12 women. There are two dormitories which hold four prisoners and one dormitory which holds three prisoners. There is also an observation cell for vulnerable women or those on Act2Care.

2.32 Outside the cell area is a small central area which is used as the reception on entry to the prison. Basic kitchen equipment can also be found in this area. A range of information relevant to females is available: from healthy living brochures; referral forms for care and support; and complaints forms.

2.33 On the ground floor is a small TV lounge, shower and laundry facilities and the property store for women. All of the unit's dirty clothes are washed in this area and then sent to the main laundry for drying. The women indicated that the shower facilities had recently been upgraded and that they were missing the bath, which had been removed.

2.34 There is a telephone in this area which the prisoners can access when not in cell.

2.35 All cells have integral sanitation. The accommodation is bright and well ventilated. Graffiti was evident is some areas. Each of the four bedded cells is equipped with chairs for just two prisoners. At the time of the visit only five women were being held in this area. When this unit holds its capacity it is cramped and the privacy afforded to each individual is poor.

2.36 Each woman has her own cutlery which she washes after use. Detergent is available in the central area outside the cells. All dishes are returned to the central kitchen area. Meals are transferred from the central servery to this area prior to lunch and the evening meal. There is no central eating area and women eat all their meals in their cells.

2.37 During the inspection it was evident that the women spend a large proportion of time out of their cells compared with male prisoners. However, there is no routine work for them. During the visit they spent an afternoon potting plants for a local charity event. They have access to the gym, library and shop at specific times so that they do not mix with male prisoners. They do however attend visits and Sunday Services with male prisoners.

Exercise Areas

2.38 Facilities for exercise in the fresh air are basic. There is one main exercise area and two smaller areas to allow various groups of prisoners to have time in the fresh air while being kept separate from each other. There is also a small astro turf football pitch which can be accessed during PE.

2.39 The small yard at the back of 'B' hall is used by remand prisoners and can become very crowded at times. This yard and the main one have no seated area and prisoners are only allowed sit on the ground or walk around.

2.40 An area at the front of the health centre is available for female prisoners to spend time in the open air. This area has seating which makes it marginally more appealing.

2.41 Waterproofs are available in 'B' hall for those prisoners who want them. Extra time in the fresh air is sometimes made available if the weather is good.


2.42 The kitchen employs twelve prisoners and is clean and efficient. Staff working there have undertaken the Scotvec Level 2 and Intermediate Hygiene Courses. Prisoners undertake the basic food handling course. There are no longer any Scotvec qualifications available to prisoners. These should be reintroduced.

2.43 The kitchen is located beside 'B' hall which has a servery from which food is served to all prisoners in the larger halls. Inspectors tasted the food on a number of occasions and the quality was good and portions large. A vegetarian option is available at every meal. A four week menu cycle exists and remand prisoners are also offered a choice. Fruit is available. Food is transported to 'E' and 'F' wings in heated trolleys in trays ready to serve. Prisoners in 'D' wing receive plated meals via thermal containers. Transportation time is short and the food does not deteriorate.

2.44 A Catering Committee offers prisoners the opportunity to comment on the arrangements and make suggestions. Managers taste the food on a regular basis. There is no formal complaints book, but prisoners have every opportunity to make a complaint at the servery or to the catering manager. The Prisoner Survey and discussion with prisoners confirmed high levels of satisfaction.

2.45 Special diets are catered for. The catering department and the health centre work together to ensure that medical issues related to diet are addressed. This is an area of good practice. The catering department also discuss any particular requirements with prisoners.

2.46 The timing of the meals is appropriate and special arrangements are made for prisoners due for early escort departures, late returns from courts and admissions.

2.47 Overall, the catering arrangements are excellent.


2.48 The arrangement for prisoners' canteen is a 'shop' located in 'B' hall. The shop is well stocked with a good range of well priced items. A sample of stock was examined and all items were well within the "sell by" date. Prisoners have the opportunity to comment on stock and make suggestions through the common good fund meeting.

2.49 Very good arrangements for purchasing sundry items are in place. Cards for special occasions can be purchased to help maintain family contact and relations. Other items such as flowers and boxes of chocolates can also be purchased for this purpose. Articles required for cultural reasons, such as face creams and shampoos, can be ordered. If a prisoner has sufficient cash he/she can purchase a newspaper every day. The canteen passman also visits the halls with a request sheet for fruit. It should be noted that a wide range of fruit is available to buy: bananas, satsumas, apples, grapes, pears, plums and kiwi fruit. Uptake of this is very high. Plans are in place to gradually replace the shop with the 'bag and tag' system common in the rest of the SPS.

Clothing and Laundry

2.50 Five prisoners are employed in the laundry and at the time of inspection they were not able to obtain a formal qualification. The laundry service and the quality of clothing in Inverness is very good. All new prisoners are given a personal numbered kit. The underwear and other garments have previously been worn by other prisoners. Prisoners should be issued with new underwear on admission to the prison. Prisoners if they wish may wear their own underwear and have this washed in the laundry. Every effort is made to ensure that prisoners are supplied with clothing which is in a good state of repair and is a good fit. Damaged clothing is changed.

2.51 Underwear and socks can be washed on a daily basis. Shirts, towels and jeans can be laundered three times per week with pillow slips, sheets and duvet covers once per week. Cooks clothing is washed on a daily basis. Despite a high prisoner turnover and constant overcrowding the laundry continues to provide a very good service, a point confirmed by prisoners. Stock control procedures were also very effective.

2.52 Procedures are in place for bio-hazard washing and infection control.