Addiewell, Scotland’s newest private prison (run by Sodexo Justice Services) wasinspected in November 2010, just less than 2 years after it first opened.
The report was published in January 2011 and by and large, that report was positive:“…it is an impressive prison. It has made huge progress in most areas. Indeed,Addiewell has shown real evidence of Good Practice, some of which I would
describe as ‘Best Practice’”.
However, I was also clear that a number of areas needed to be re-inspected. Levels of violence were reported as being high; staff turnover appeared to be high; there was an inconsistent approach to ACT2Care; the Listeners did not feel well
supported; the Learning, Skills and Employability contract had been terminated and had, just prior to the inspection, been replaced by the prison’s own education staff. Healthcare was, at best, at a basic level. Participation in purposeful activities was not as high as it could have been.
I therefore felt that HMP Addiewell should be re-visited and so undertook an unannounced follow-up inspection in June 2012.
In general it is clear that the prison has carried out a significant amount of well-considered work to address many of the issues highlighted in the report. I was pleased to see significant progress in a number of areas.
I had been concerned about poor staff retention because prisons need a foundation of experience, particularly at junior management level and also in residential halls. I had reported in 2010: “there is still a comparatively high turnover of staff when compared to prisons which have been open much longer, particularly of more experienced staff, and this does not help embed operational knowledge and practice in to the establishment.” Sodexo’s assessment was that improved staff salaries would lead to improved retention. The effect of these salary increases had not yetimpacted at the time of the follow-up and the figures show that staff retention still appears to be poor. The result of this is that some staff in the halls appear to be
inexperienced and are not as engaged with prisoners as I would have expected. Although the Chair of the Visiting Committee reported that he believed that staff had become more knowledgeable, inspectors observed an instance of a poorly-run
evening ‘lock up’ which had the potential to raise unnecessary safety risks. I suggest that staff training in halls is addressed as a priority. We will continue to monitor staff retention in the hope that the new salary scales will considerably improve this situation.
I continue to believe that Addiewell is a safe prison. Prisoners reported that they feel
safe and the evidence shows that staff/prisoner relationships are good. My view is that Addiewell is no more violent than other prisons, nevertheless, the prison should not be complacent on this issue.
In general, healthcare has improved considerably from a very poor position. The transfer to the NHS has gone relatively smoothly and the Health Centre Manager has overseen a number of improvements. Almost every area of weakness has made good progress.
Family contact had been an area of good practice and this continues to be the case. For example, family involvement in the Integrated Case Management (ICM) process remains about 29%. This is more than double the average figure achieved by public sector prisons. I had hoped to see improved processing of visitors arriving for visits.
Unfortunately I observed long delays at the property desk and at other points and I suggest the prison reviews the processes for visitors to make this more streamlined and efficient. The prison, in association with Families Outside, is due to open a families resource centre and I believe this signifies good progress and will greatly improve support for families. This also demonstrates the strong community links the
prison has developed.
Participation in purposeful activity has improved from about 60% to approximately 75% and this is a significant achievement. Much of the good work has been due to the ability of senior managers to interrogate the data produced from the Custodial
Management System (CMS). The CMS is proving to be a useful prisoner management information tool. The related Kiosk system allows prisoners to book
visits, select meal choices, access their own financial accounts, order items from the
prison canteen and interrogate their timetable. I suggest the SPS look at the opportunities that computerised management systems bring in terms of organising activities as well as other aspects of prisoner management.
Education is developing well but there are insufficient teachers with the proper teaching qualifications and this issue must be addressed.
In conclusion, the prison is making good progress. Change seems to be constant at Addiewell, but it is change for the sake of development and improvement. The pace of change at Addiewell is fairly rapid. Some prisoners, find such change difficult and expressed their concerns during the inspection. I would like to see managers and
residential staff engage more with prisoners to better effect. Addiewell needs to provide prisoners with reassurance that their complaints and concerns are being correctly dealt with.