Treat inmates with respect, prison staff are urged
PRISONERS in Scotland's jails should be addressed by their first names, according to a new document that sets out fundamental rights for the country's 7,200 inmates.
A 48-page report by Dr Andrew McLellan, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons in Scotland, recommends inmates should enjoy a range of new rights, including daily fruit and vegetables and the frequent provision of clean underwear.
Staff have been warned never to use "insulting nicknames" or racial or impersonal terms. If they do not address inmates by first name, they could instead be addressed as Mr or Mrs. Officers should also always knock before entering cells, except in emergencies.
Several requirements are set out on the use of telephones. There should be enough phones for each prisoner to have daily access, prisoners should be clearly told that calls are monitored, phones should not be in noisy places where prisoners cannot hear properly and prisoners should be able to talk on the phone without being overheard by other inmates.
Prisons should provide at least one hour a day in the open air for every inmate, in space large enough for "meaningful" exercise, and appropriate bad-weather clothing should be provided. With slopping-out not fully eradicated, the document stipulates access to a lavatory and hand basin "at all times".
Scotland's prison population is at a record level and slopping-out takes place at Polmont young offenders' institution and at Peterhead, where chemical toilets are used.
The document states that if a lavatory is in a cell, it should be enclosed to provide privacy.
If prisoners have to call for the cell door to be opened so they can use a lavatory, staff should respond within a stated time that is "reasonable".
Overall, the document groups the standards under three main headings: safety, decency and opportunities for self-improvement. These standards are then formalised under nine general goals.
One of these requires "appropriate steps" to be taken to ensure prisoners are protected from harming themselves or others. Another requires they are treated with "respect for their dignity" while being escorted to and from prison.
A third requires that prisoners be treated with respect by staff and another requires that healthcare in prisons is provided to the same standard as in the outside world.
Scotland's jails each undergo a full inspection every three years, with follow-up inspections in between.
The Tories claimed that the document should also have faced other issues. The party's justice spokeswoman, Margaret Mitchell, said: "Of course, prisons and prison life must meet certain basic, humane standards. However, it must also deliver a strict disciplinary regime.
"With drugs rife in prison and illegal mobile phones readily available to prisoners, I would expect Dr McLellan's report to address these worrying issues.
"The fact that it doesn't will inevitably leave it open to criticism that it is skewed towards rewarding the perpetrators of crime, rather than focusing on deterring, punishing and rehabilitating them."
A Scottish Prison Service spokesman said: "The prison service welcomes the fact there is a clear set of standards that the chief inspector has outlined.
"The chief inspector himself notes that many of these standards are aspirational. These standards have implications not just for the prison service but the wider community as well."
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