In general, there has been fair progress since the main inspection and given the significant change in the prisoner population this is largely satisfactory. Following previous criticism it is pleasing to note the improvement in catering (paragraphs 11.10 and 11.11). Good Practice has largely continued and developed in some instances. The majority of Recommendations and Actions have been implemented, although there are some areas still that require attention and improvement. Preparation for progression to the Top End and Open Estate has improved (paragraph 11.1).
The impact of the transfer of the Sex Offenders from Peterhead has been considerable. There is very strict separation of these prisoners from others within the regime and this causes restrictions particularly in terms of access to activities and programmes (paragraph 11.17). Inevitably each of the two different populations perceive that they have lost out. Overcrowding has become more acute since the original inspection and the instances of ‘doubled up’ single cells in Harviestoun Hall caused a disproportionate number of complaints to inspectors. There are 64 single cells in Harviestoun ‘doubled up’ and 26 in Abercrombie Hall. It is my view that such doubling up should only occur for the minimum length of time.
Access to purposeful activity is complicated by the requirement to separate the different prison populations; nevertheless the figures have improved since the previous inspection. Forty seven percent of prisoners were at an activity, although the unusually high number of passmen inflates this figure. Excluding prisoners acting as passmen, the figure reduces to about 30%. Access to education is not as high as it could be, again restricted by the tight regime for protection prisoners. An average of below 35% attend education and this needs to increase substantially (paragraph 12.29). The library was assessed as poor in the full inspection in 2010. A new library has now been set up within the Compass Centre, with proper staff oversight and a prisoner librarian. There is now regular access to the library and this is good progress (paragraph 12.28). The prison has made progress on the need to increase access to vocational programmes for short term prisoners and 75% of such prisoners are now working which is significant progress (paragraph 12.27).
I view the role of Personal Officers as an essential part of mentoring and progressing prisoners. In the full inspection report I specifically commented that the role of such officers should be clarified and that specific training and support be provided to take the role forward. This follow up report confirms that there is still no job description for the role of Personal Officers and that while pockets of related training are available, they are scarce and restricted to small numbers of staff. This hampers much of the work that is being attempted to rehabilitate prisoners. I continue to urge that this vital work is given the focus it requires so that progress can be made in this area. This call includes the need to train Lifer Liaison Officers so that they too can participate to their maximum potential in offender management (paragraphs 11.2, 11.7 and 12.37).
The prison has created a full time family contact officer and this is undoubtedly helping with several initiatives (paragraph 11.14). Nevertheless there has been no progress on wider support for families visiting Glenochil. The prison, which is poorly served by public transport, requires a Prisoner Visitor Centre and an improved facility for supporting families. Given that many families visiting the prison have to come from long distances, I view this as a priority and continue to call for such a facility. Other prisons such as Addiewell and Barlinnie are hoping to open such facilities led by local community groups and 3rd Sector organisations and my hope is that Glenochil will tackle this issue in a similar way. (Paragraph 11.3).
In summary there has been a satisfactory response to the 2010 inspection report and there has been good progress in a number of areas. Equally there are a number of areas that still require attention.
The central issue at Glenochil is the need to improve access to purposeful activity and to programmes. The arrival of sex offenders from Peterhead has complicated the situation and this needs to be addressed in the light of a further tranche of prisoners to be transferred from Peterhead as part of the opening of the new prison at Low Moss in March 2012. I will continue to monitor this situation