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

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3. SAFETY

Outcome

Appropriate steps are taken to ensure that individual prisoners are protected from harm by themselves and others.

3.1 Met. The prison is safe; relationships are good; anti suicide measures are good; there are few drugs; prisoner escort arrangements are appropriate; and there is no obvious evidence of bullying.

Escapes, Absconds and Physical Security

3.2 There have been no escapes from Inverness since the last inspection. The last abscond was in 2004. The prison has a perimeter wall and inner fence. The perimeter is alarmed and has full CCTV coverage.

Supervision Levels

3.3 Most prisoners located in Inverness arrive directly from court. There are also a few long-term prisoners who find it difficult to cope in association in a larger establishment. The prisoner supervision paperwork is started in reception immediately after admission. The initial level allocated is reviewed within 72 hours by a residential officer. A first line manager checks this and makes the final decision.

3.4 The review board consisting of Head of Operations, Intelligence Analyst, Operations First Line Manager and 'C' wing Officer meets monthly to conduct reviews. Most short-term prisoners are reviewed at three monthly intervals but all must have a review annually. The prisoner is not present at the review but is allowed to make written representation.

3.5 Inspectors reviewed both electronic and paper records. Reviews occur in line with the policy and decisions are based on a range of information. Reasons for decisions are not always written on the forms and the prisoner does not always sign the form. This should be addressed.

3.6 Apart from some minor omissions noted above the system for awarding and reviewing prisoner supervision levels is robust.

Escort Handover Procedures

3.7 A Personal Escort Record ( PER) is generated for every prisoner leaving the establishment under the control of the escort contractor. All PERs inspected held an appropriate range of information to ensure the security, safety and care of the individual. The PER forms received from the escort contractor contained detailed information about the prisoner and the process he had been through that day. There is also good verbal communication between reception and escort staff during the handover procedure.

3.8 Many prisoners held in Inverness are required to travel significant distances to and from courts and some have to be unlocked early in the morning before the main shift is on duty. The night duty staff unlock the prisoner, supervise his shower and provide him with breakfast. Reception staff come in early to assist with early courts.

3.9 When prisoners are brought into the establishment they leave the escort vehicle uncuffed, two at a time and are identified in reception. In the evening when the reception staff are taking their meal break prisoners are accepted by members of a patrol shift. During this period prisoners are escorted into reception uncuffed, one at a time. Once the prisoner is identified he is taken immediately to a cell in 'B' hall where he is held until reception staff return from their meal and complete the reception admission process.

3.10 By not handcuffing prisoners and escorting them between the vehicle and reception the procedure is speeded up, with no obvious compromise to security or safety.

3.11 The vehicles inspected were clean and all had water and microwave meals on board. Prisoners leaving the establishment reported knowing where they were going and had some idea how long the journey would take. If prisoners on long journeys require to use the toilet they are generally taken into a police station on the route. Prisoners also reported that they were well treated by escort staff. They did not however receive a safety briefing prior to commencement of their journey. This should be addressed.

Admission and Induction Procedures

Reception

3.12 The reception area has undergone a refurbishment since the last full inspection in October 2004. The area is still small, but provides a much more acceptable environment. A short corridor runs from the external entrance door to a small room at the back of the reception. The main reception area is to the left of this corridor. There are three cubicles for prisoners to change their clothes.

3.13 There is now a communal waiting room with a transparent wall which allows good sight lines. The room has six fixed seats, a television and a water dispenser. There is a lack of good quality information notices within the waiting room. A large fixed worktop and staff work station are located in the main reception area. A search area is located opposite the staff workstation: this offers adequate opportunity for the maintenance of dignity

3.14 A clothing store is located in a room just off the main reception area. The store has a rack system which allows maximum use of the available space. There is also a hanging area for suits. A small wall safe provides secure overnight storage of cash and valuable property until this can be taken to the office the following working day for more permanent secure storage.

3.15 All prisoners received into reception are located in the communal waiting area. The only exception to this is prisoners who require to be kept separate. These prisoners will either be located in the small room at the end of the corridor or in one of the separate changing rooms. Prisoners are brought to the workstation where they are seated and their details are entered on the computerised record system. The cell sharing risk assessment is carried out at this time. The suicide risk assessment is carried out in the small room at the end of the corridor, if it is considered that someone is a potential risk. Although this offers privacy it is not the ideal environment in which to conduct such important and potentially sensitive interviews.

3.16 All new admissions are given a numbered prison kit. Although kits are clean none are new. Prisoners should be issued with new underwear on admission to the prison. If a prisoner is serving over three months he will be given new shoes. If he is serving less than three months a used pair of shoes will be issued albeit after having been sprayed with an approved disinfectant. Remand prisoners are allowed to have their own clothing in use in the hall but are required to wear prison clothing when they attend the visit area.

3.17 Property and cash are checked in the presence of the prisoner and then entered on the appropriate cards for the prisoner's signature. Telephone interpreting services are available to assist with immediate needs. The most common language requests are Polish and Latvian. All new admissions and returns are given a 30 pence credit for their phone account.

3.18 There is a SHAP calendar of religious festivals available, but no obvious notice in reception identifying foreign languages. This should be addressed.

3.19 On late shift, the reception area is staffed by two officers. It can be very busy. Many admissions into Inverness will also have travelled a significant distance, sometimes by air from Kirkwall and Stornoway, sometimes by a long road journey from Portree. There are good lines of communication between most of the courts and the prison, with courts advising reception staff of admissions and the expected time of arrival. Staff are very supportive of prisoners received into reception and many prisoners are well known to staff. Everyone was addressed either by their first name or had their surname prefixed by 'Mr'. Once the reception process is completed individuals are moved quickly to 'B' hall where a first night check list is completed and a cell allocated. This ensures that if a prisoner is admitted before the evening meal a hot meal is made available.

3.20 A hot meal is not available if the prisoner is admitted after the evening meal has been served. Most prisoners who are due to arrive at the prison after the evening meal are offered a meal before they leave the court. If some form of evening meal has not been provided before the prisoner arrives in Inverness there is no opportunity to have any food. A contingency should be developed for those (rare) occasions when a prisoner arrives in the evening not already having received an evening meal.

3.21 Female admissions are passed immediately to the female unit where the admission process is conducted.

3.22 All admissions are interviewed by a nurse. This interview will often take place in the small room at the end of the entrance corridor. There is no access to the computerised prisoner record system in this room. The nurse conducts a basic healthcare checklist assessment and a nursing suicide risk assessment. All admissions are seen the following day by the doctor when medication and detoxification issues are addressed. A prisoner admitted to Inverness with addiction problems on a Monday evening may have been in police custody since the Friday and will not see the doctor until the Tuesday morning. This may add to their distress.

Induction

3.23 New admissions are located in 'B' hall. Officers give information to the prisoner following a routine "first night admission checklist". This ensures consistency of approach. It covers basic but immediately useful information, for example how to summon help and support on your first night; the protocol for using the telephone; and the availability of the listener service.

3.24 Following this process, induction is undertaken by officers in 'E' wing. The following morning officers sit down with every new prisoner on a one-to-one basis and give more detailed information. This one-to-one session is undertaken in the Induction Room. This room hosts all inductions and pre-release paperwork. The individual session covers hall routines, grievance procedures, referral process to the health centre, visits, availability of work placements and Act Procedures. The Core Screen is undertaken and the officer completes this on PR2. Prisoners also have the opportunity to raise concerns.

3.25 At the end of each week a group induction is also undertaken, during which all prisoners admitted that week are given a presentation by a number of other service providers within the prison, as well as fuller briefing by 'E' wing staff. During the inspection this session was well attended by 19 prisoners (18 remand and 1 convicted). Five of these prisoners had never been in prison before and took the opportunity to ask a number of questions. The room itself is cramped and airless and far too small for the number of individuals who were participating. The officer however did an excellent job at keeping the prisoners engaged. Other providers who input to the session are Phoenix Futures, the Health Care Team and Jobcentre Plus.

3.26 An Inverness Induction Booklet is given to all new prisoners on admission. This contains lots of information in relation to Core Screening, ICM, the Visiting Committee, the FCDO and Complaints. This is only available in English. Consideration was being given to publishing this in Polish due to the increase in this population within the prison. The booklet could easily be adapted for families or made available in the visits area. There are no opportunities for families to participate in induction, Phoenix Futures does not provide a dedicated family induction session, and no literature about induction is available for families in the visits area. Families should be encouraged to participate in the induction process and more information should be made available to them.

Suicide Risk Management

3.27 There have been three suicides since the last full inspection. The average monthly number of prisoners subject to ACT2Care in the year to date of inspection was eight with four episodes of self harm in the same period. This shows a reduction in both average monthly numbers and self harm incidents from the previous year.

3.28 At the time of inspection two prisoners were subject to ACT2Care. One was high risk and one low. The prisoner on low risk had been subject to ACT for approximately three months: which seems excessive. Inspectors met with both prisoners on ACT2Care and they confirmed that they were extremely content with the care and support they were receiving. There are very good relationships between staff and prisoners at Inverness and this helps create a feeling of a safe and supportive environment for prisoners.

3.29 When a prisoner is assessed as requiring ACT2Care procedures, the Inverness approach is to organise an immediate case conference. This is an area of good practice. If the prison is locked up and "on patrol", an immediate care plan will be drawn up in line with policy and a case conference held once the main shift is on duty.

3.30 There are two safe cells in 'B' hall and one in the female unit. These cells are not equipped to the recommended SPS standard. They do not have a bed, furniture or electric power. A mattress is laid on a raised concrete plinth and the toilet is not enclosed. Staff reported that when the number of prisoners requiring high supervision is greater than the number of safe cells available permission is sought to put a male prisoner into the safe cell in the female unit.

3.31 If that particular facility is in use then two prisoners are accommodated in one of the safe cells. The situation then is that one prisoner will sleep on a mattress on the raised plinth and the other will use a mattress on the lower part of the floor. Although there are occasions and circumstances where it may be appropriate to place two high risk ACT2Care supervision prisoners in the same cell, this should only follow a robust assessment that it is the most appropriate approach. It should not be considered as an expedient to address issues of overcrowding. It is hard to imagine how such circumstances might not be detrimental to such an individual's fragile mental health.

3.32 An assessment of the paperwork indicated that when someone is placed on high risk there is a standard approach of locating him in a safe cell, issuing canvas clothing and canvas bedding and allowing no items in use. An individual person centred approach based on risk and need, in line with policy guidelines, should be adopted. It was however good to note that family members are sometimes involved in case conferences. The regime for prisoners on ACT2Care appears to be focused more on risk aversion that social stimulation. There is, for example, no day care facility and no dedicated mental health resource to support prisoners on ACT2Care.

3.33 Inverness has a Listener Scheme. At the time of inspection there were four Listeners. Inspectors met with Listeners and the Samaritan prison representative who reported that they felt valued and supported. The Listeners reported that staff and management ensured that they were able to move easily around the prison to see clients. A Listener is present during induction and one Listener currently works in the library which ensures that the scheme is both formally and informally publicised. Listeners reported that they will often use their own tea bags or tobacco when interviewing a client. Management should consider supplying a "comfort pack" for the duty Listener.

3.34 A significant issue for the Listeners is the lack of appropriate facilities within the residential areas for confidential meetings. Due to the regular overcrowding most cells have two prisoners and if a Listener is asked to see a client and there are two prisoners in the cell the other prisoner is asked to leave. This is not acceptable and a more appropriate location for such meetings should be found.

3.35 A lack of appropriate interview space is also a problem for ACT2Care case conferences. Inspectors witnessed a case conference which occurred over a weekend and was held in the laundry. The case conference was conducted whilst staff and the prisoner were standing around a table. Although the staff were able to build an excellent rapport with the prisoner and get him to speak openly, this is not an appropriate environment in which to conduct a case conference.

3.36 The local Suicide Risk Management Group ( SRMG) meets on a regular basis and inspection of the minutes indicates good attendance and appropriate topics discussed. Samaritans and Listeners attend SRMG meetings.

3.37 Overall, Inverness provides a safe and supportive environment for prisoners, and suicide risk management procedures, even if somewhat risk averse, are able to support vulnerable prisoners through a crisis.

Violence

3.38 Prisoners regularly reported that the prison was safe. Vulnerable prisoners who tend to feel less safe reported that staff ensured they were not verbally or physically abused. In the current year to the inspection there had been two prisoner-on-prisoner assaults against a target of one. In the previous year there was one prisoner-on-prisoner assault. Most assaults are a consequence of something which has happened in the community. Improved liaison with the police means that information is often received which allows preventive action to be taken.

3.39 The last reportable prisoner-on-staff assault was two years ago. The number of prisoner removals under restraint showed a slight increase in the current year over the previous one. In 2006 the monthly average was 1.5 per month whilst in the year up to the inspection there was a monthly average of 1.9. Planned removals are not video recorded. This should be addressed. Handcuffs have not been used in the past two years.

3.40 All allegations of staff-on-prisoner assaults are reported to the police for investigation.

Night Duty

3.41 Night duty cover is provided by a group of permanent night duty staff who have built up a high level of experience and expertise. A comprehensive set of night and emergency instructions are available. However, some of the instructions and paperwork in the night folders are outdated. This should be addressed.

3.42 None of the night duty staff are trained in first aid but all have a current competence in "first on the scene" procedures which includes emergency resuscitation.

3.43 Night duty staff displayed a good knowledge of procedures, and inspectors were satisfied that they could deal effectively with a range of potential situations which might occur during the night.