McArthur: HMIPS report confirms need for prisons reform

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP today said that HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland's (HMIPS) annual report shows why prisons and sentencing policies need to be "dragged into the 21st century".

The HMIPS' Annual Report for 2017-18:

  • welcomed the intention to extend the presumption against short prison sentences from three to twelve months;
  • reported that HMPs Inverness and Greenock "did not meet modern standards";
  • said "there were insufficient treatment programmes available for short-term prisoners serving four years or less";
  • praised the work of throughcare support officers helping resettle people following release;
  • reported that "sometimes basic levels of healthcare were not provided to patients" due to staffing issues;
  • reported a rise in instances of the use of novel psychoactive substances;
  • expressed concern about the number of people on remand, adding "it appears that remand is used as a heavy-handed way to ensure the accused attends court for their trial";
  • said much work needs to be done to reduce the number of women held in custody ahead of the introduction of the new estate with fewer places in 2020.

Mr McArthur commented:

"It is time to drag our prisons and sentencing policies into the 21st century.

"It is time to stop using remand as a means to courier people to court. We need robust community based sentences instead of destructive short stints in prison which the evidence shows plunge people into a cycle of offending. Furthermore, extending throughcare to every person leaving prison would also ensure nobody is left at the gate with just a few pounds in their pocket and nowhere stable to live.

"These are the types of bold policies we need to help people avoid making the same mistakes, preventing crime and enabling them to rebuild their lives."

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