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HM Inspectorate of Prisons: Report on HMP Perth

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4. RESPECT

Outcomes

Prisoners are treated with respect by prison staff.

4.1 Relationships between prisoners and staff are very good, and prisoners are treated with respect at all times in the main prison. Relationships in Friarton hall do not appear to be as good.

Prisoners are treated with respect for their dignity while being escorted to and from prison, in prison and while under escort in any location.

4.2 Prisoners are very well treated by escort staff. The conditions in Perth Sheriff Court and Dundee Sheriff Court are poor.

Relationships

4.3 Relationships between prison staff and prisoners are very good. First names are normally used. Prisoners are also very well treated by escort staff. Escort staff displayed good inter personal skills and consideration for the needs of prisoners.

4.4 The prisoner survey reports that 94% of prisoners said they got on OK or better with staff.

Perth Sheriff Court

4.5 Access to the court for escort vehicles does not provide a secure path to the cells area, although arrangements are in place to address this. The cells area is very small but allows for the separation of different categories of prisoners. There are only five cells so space is at a premium as up to 30 prisoners are sometimes held there. There is no natural light in the cells and they were dirty and covered in graffiti. Cells should be kept clean, and g raffiti should be removed. On the positive side, CCTV is installed in all cells.

4.6 There are two separate toilets which prisoners have to ask to use. Although there are sinks there are no soap dispensers or drying towels. Hand washing facilities should be available in holding cells.

4.7 Solicitors are able to speak to their clients in private, purpose built interview booths with glass screens. Microphones are in place to facilitate conversations. Arrangements for medical support are in place.

4.8 Drinking water is available, regular hot drinks are served throughout the day and sandwiches and crisps are available at lunchtime. Special dietary needs can be accommodated and there is usually a vegetarian and Halal choice available.

4.9 The District Court is about 100 metres from the Sheriff Court and prisoners occasionally attend this court. The facilities are good and three staff would accompany any prisoner while he is being held there. The disembarkation of prisoners to this court is difficult as the vehicle has to park on the main road, is often moved on by traffic wardens and staff have to walk handcuffed prisoners across a public path.

4.10 Prisoners are very well treated by escort staff.

Dundee Sheriff Court

4.11 The disembarkation of prisoners from vehicles to Dundee Sheriff Court is secure. The layout of the cells area allows the separation of different categories of prisoners. There are eight cells. The adjacent police cells can also be used if an individual is disruptive.

4.12 There is no natural light in the cells. They were reasonably clean but were covered in graffiti and became dirty through heavy use as the day wore on. Cells should be kept clean, and graffiti should be removed.

4.13 The toilets are in the cells area and staff are able to allow quick access when required. Separate toilets are available for male and female prisoners. None of the toilets had any hand washing facilities. Hand washing facilities should be available in the holding cells.

4.14 Solicitors are able to speak to their clients in four interview rooms. The interview rooms were clean and had very little graffiti.

4.15 Arrangements for medical support are in place and a practitioner nurse is on duty in the cells area. All escort court staff are first aid trained. This is an area of good practice.

4.16 Drinking water is available and a hot drink is served at regular intervals. Sandwiches and crisps are available at lunchtime. Special dietary needs can be met.

4.17 Prisoners are treated very well by escort staff.

Equality and Diversity

4.18 At the time of the inspection 26 Black and Ethnic Minority prisoners were being held. Inspectors found it difficult to get an accurate picture of how many were unable to speak English. On reception to the prison the telephone interpreting service is used if required.

4.19 A Race Relations Induction form is completed within the first 24 hours of admission. The Links Centre has access to a multi-language CD to assist with the induction process. There are no notices in foreign languages on display in reception and no foreign language information in the First night in Custody Centre. The learning centre offers ESOL classes for those who require it.

4.20 There have been no recent Confidential Racial Incident Reports ( CRIR) submitted, although a complaint form regarding a racial complaint was investigated by a manager from another establishment. This was handled thoroughly, although a CRIR should have been completed.

4.21 All foreign national prisoners who have no family in the UK are permitted a ten minute telephone call, at the prison's expense, once each month.

4.22 At the time of the inspection two prisoners required a wheelchair to move around the prison. There are four disabled access cells within the main prison and one in Friarton Hall. Four prisoners had an identified hearing impairment and an officer from the activities area was able to support them by sign language.

4.23 Perth is managing aspects of Equality and Diversity effectively. However, it should adopt a more focused and structured approach to Black and Ethnic Minority prisoners.

Searching

4.24 There is a robust procedure in place for searching prisoners. All searches are carried out in a respectful manner.