Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokeswoman Alison McInnes MSP has today called for the Prison Service to act on repeated calls for action on low levels of purposeful activity following the publication of a critical inspection report of HMP Dumfries.
The report, which highlights that access to purposeful activities for short-term prisoners could be improved, is the eleventh by HMIPS in the last three years to highlight shortages in the provision and uptake of purposeful activity in prisons.
Purposeful activities encompass a broad range of opportunities and services allowing prisoners to use their time constructively, including access to libraries, exercise sessions and skills training.
Commenting Ms McInnes said:
“While the report on the recent inspection of HMP Dumfries is generally positive and I commend the staff at the prison, it is unacceptable that the provision and uptake of purposeful activity in prisons continues to be such a low priority.
“We cannot keep seeing the provision of purposeful activities for Scotland’s prisoners being sidelined when it should be at the heart of the government’s strategy for reducing reoffending levels.
“It is vital that more is done to encourage prisoners to participate in activities that can allow them to prepare for returning to their community. Education and training can transform the life chances of those who spend time in prison.
“There have now been eleven inspections HMIPS in the last three years that highlight shortages in the provision and uptake of purposeful activity in prisons. How many more will take place before the government sits up and takes action?”