Prisoners' entitlements are accorded them in all circumstances without their facing difficulty.
6.1 Met. Privileged mail and disciplinary and complaints procedures are all handled appropriately.
6.2 Only two issues had been identified during the last 18 months in relation to the handling of privileged mail and both of these had been investigated fully. SPSHQ had also been notified. Evidence of both of these investigations was available during the inspection. Staff voiced frustration that a number of local Solicitors who communicated with prisoners did not address the "Privileged Correspondence" appropriately but staff, due to their local vigilance, had been able to identify these. Letters had recently been sent to a number of Solicitors reminding them to alert the prison to the status of the communication.
Management of Disciplinary Proceedings
6.3 The Orderly Room is usually held in the Control Office Room. This room is not ideal as it continues to be used as an office when the Orderly Room is taking place. There are two desks, spin terminals, filing cabinets and adequate seating. The room houses other office equipment, with the telephone ringing on numerous occasions during the Orderly Room observed during the inspection. Keys to the lockable cabinets in all cells are also held on wall storage.
6.4 A second room known as the "small Orderly Room" is available should the prisoner be assessed as being disruptive. The room is small and basic with only a table and chairs and TV. This room is also used for Police and Social Work interviews.
6.5 Disciplinary hearings are normally chaired by the Residential Unit Manager, although other members of the Senior Management Team will undertaken this in his absence. Two Orderly Room hearings were held during the inspection with one of these observed by inspectors. The prisoner involved was treated in a respectful manner and had been given adequate time to prepare. Information from his narratives was also discussed.
6.6 The prisoner sits behind one desk with the adjudicator facing him behind another desk. There was no space behind the prisoner for officers to sit (due to the filing system) so they stood for the duration of the hearing. This appeared obtrusive.
6.7 The disposals made were appropriate. Proceedings were carried out in accordance with SPS guidance. An analysis of paperwork was undertaken both of written documentation and SPIN records. This was thorough and appropriate.
6.8 The Chaplaincy team comprises four part-time Chaplains all employed on permanent contracts for five hours each week. These cover Church of Scotland, Roman Catholic, Evangelical and Free Church of Scotland. The Roman Catholic Priest had joined this team in the last few months and was positive about the support received from the other members of the team and from Senior Management. The Chaplains meet as a team on a monthly basis.
6.9 The Salvation Army also provide a service to the prison and have done so for many years. During the inspection a representative mentioned that this service will stop in the near future and that this would leave a gap in the support available for prisoners.
6.10 There is no Iman service within the prison, although advice can be sought from the Imam who covers HMP Aberdeen. At the time of the inspection there were no practising Muslims in the prison. The Chaplains can provide prayer mats and copies of the Koran.
6.11 All Chaplains are trained in Act2Care and Control & Restraint. They are all key holders.
6.12 Chaplains visit the prison every day except Saturday. They have established a thorough process for identifying and visiting all new admissions to the prison within 24 hours of arrival. They also visit the Segregation Unit when it is in use.
6.13 Religious services are held on a Sunday. The Church of Scotland Service is held between 9 am and 10am, in 'B' hall Recreation Area, The Roman Catholic Service is held between 10am and 11am in the Education Unit/Chapel Area. An average of 15-25 prisoners attend the services. Male and female prisoners are able to worship together.
6.14 Whilst the facilities used for the services double up and are used by others for meetings and recreation, the Chaplains felt that they were always clean and tidy and well presented for the Sunday services.
6.15 The Chaplains spoke positively about their role within the prison. They are represented on several groups including Mental Health, Alcohol, and Equality and Diversity (although a number of these were not running at the time of the inspection). They also spoke positively about the role of the Listeners and felt that they had established close links should they require support.
6.16 Other groups which are running in the prison are the Prison Fellowship which offers a service to the Female Unit on a Friday evening. The Alpha Group had stopped recently, half way through a course, as prisoners had not continued to attend.
Prisoner Complaints Procedure
6.17 Prisoner complaints forms are available in all residential areas except 'C' wing. Both staff and prisoners spoke of trying to resolve issues before they reached the formal process, with some prisoners saying that because they knew the officer well they would speak to him before making a complaint. As a result, the number of complaints received was not high - an average of 40 a year. During the month of September and October 2007, 13 complaints had been received. Examples of the issues identified are the time that the electricity is switched off in cells and access to property in cell.
6.18 All written complaints received by an officer are passed to the Residential Manager who then logs these on PR2. There was evidence from the logs that complaints were dealt with within timescale. All paperwork analysed was completed to a satisfactory standard.
6.19 Prisoners who are not satisfied with the initial response have the opportunity to complain further through the Internal Complaints Committee. This is always chaired by a Unit Manager. Meetings of these are held timeously, and it was evident that the prisoner was always in attendance.
6.20 Prisoners and some staff indicated that prisoners would be moved to another prison if they misbehaved. This tactic should not be used to make prisoners wary of making a legitimate complaint.
Management of Segregation
6.21 Segregation is carried out in a small separate cell unit which is located adjacent to 'B' hall. When in use staff from this hall oversee prisoners' care. There are two cells, which have double door entry. Both cells have toilets which are not enclosed (also see paragraph 2.28). All cell call systems were in working order. Whilst both cells were clean, the facility is bleak, cold and intimidating.
6.22 Cell 1 contains a window, toilet and hand washing facility. This is not used as a silent cell. The bed is attached to the floor. A personal possession box is located between two door entry points. Cell 2 contains a window, toilet and hand washing facility. A raised concrete plinth and a mattress are used for a bed. A personal possession box is located between two door entry points.
6.23 Outside the cells is an area used for storing cleaning material for 'B' hall, a kitchen area and a shower area. This area is also used for the storage of mattresses and pillows. The area is very dated.
6.24 At the time of inspection no prisoners were being held in the Segregation Unit. Entries in the Unit book show that five prisoners had been held in the facility during October. When being held in segregation prisoners have access to the telephone and shower facility in 'B' hall, and to visits and exercise. The Chaplaincy Team also visits regularly.