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HM Inspectorate of Prisons: Report on HMP Perth

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6. ENTITLEMENTS

Outcome

Prisoners' entitlements are accorded them in all circumstances without their facing difficulty.

6.1 The complaints system works well, disciplinary procedures are fair and there is good access to lawyers if required. The chaplains are well integrated in the life of the prison.

Legal Entitlements

6.2 The procedures in place to handle privileged correspondence are robust. Prisoners have adequate access to legal entitlements, and text books and human rights literature are available in the library.

Management of Disciplinary Procedures

6.3 Disciplinary hearings are held in suitable rooms in each hall. In all procedures that were observed at least one member of staff was standing for the hearing. Officers should sit down during disciplinary hearings.

6.4 At the hearings observed by inspectors the adjudicators ensured that the prisoner understood the charges, had enough time to prepare a defence and was ready for the hearing. All were offered a pen and paper to take notes. No prisoners were offered a copy of the Prison Rules but all were offered assistance. Prisoners should be offered a copy of the Prison Rules at disciplinary hearings.

6.5 Disciplinary paperwork is completed effectively. The processes followed and the reasons for decisions and awards were understood by prisoners. Adjudicators were very good at ensuring that prisoners understood all elements of the process.

6.6 There are on average 216 hearings a month. Nine per cent result in not guilty or case dismissed. There were 49 CP4's submitted in the 12 months prior to the inspection.

Religious Observance

6.7 The chaplaincy team comprises a full-time Methodist chaplain, two part-time Roman Catholic chaplains and a part-time Church of Scotland reader. All are involved in pastoral care for prisoners and staff.

6.8 The facilities for worship are a temporary chapel in 'B' hall for mainstream prisoners, a room on 'A' hall level four for protections, and the chapel in Friarton hall. All facilities are fit for purpose. Prison Fellowship Groups run several times a week.

6.9 A Roman Catholic mass is held each Sunday at 09.00hrs and a reformed service at 10.00hrs, with communion once a month. Protection prisoners have a fortnightly service at 15.00hrs on a Thursday.

6.10 There is a good understanding amongst staff of the needs of Muslim prisoners and how to action these needs. Muslim prisoners are able see an Imam and attend weekly prayers on a Friday. Overall the chaplains are well integrated into the life of the prison and provide a proactive service to prisoners.

Visiting Committees

6.11 Perth has an adult and an under 21 Visiting Committee. Inspectors met with representatives of both committees. The committees feel supported and listened to by senior management. The adult committee highlighted the benefits arising from the redevelopment of the prison but acknowledged the challenges in trying to deliver a regime during this time. These challenges, they said, were exacerbated by the recent overcrowding.

6.12 The under 21 committee was less positive about the conditions in Friarton and expressed concern about its future. Both committees felt the prison was safe for both prisoners and staff.

Prisoner Complaints Procedure

6.13 Complaint forms are on display in the halls and prisoners have no difficulty in accessing these. A review of the paperwork indicated timely and appropriate responses to complaints. The Internal Complaints Committee meets every Wednesday. The committee is chaired by a unit manager and each functional area has named representatives who attend on a rotational basis.

6.14 A review of ICC paperwork indicates that prisoner complaints are given careful consideration and detailed reasons are given for decisions. The prisoner complaints procedure is operating effectively and is transparent and fair.

Management of Segregation

6.15 Nine prisoners were being held in the segregation unit at the time of the inspection. Seven were being held under Rule 94 (to maintain good order or maintain the safety of others). Two of these prisoners had been in the segregation unit for more than one month. There was evidence of only one of these two prisoners having received a mental health assessment. All prisoners held in the segregation unit for more than one month should receive a mental health assessment. Two prisoners were in the segregation unit as a short-term punishment.