As England’s prisons sink into crisis, Scotland’s prisons benefit from a ‘consistent government’ with ‘political guts’


The details of what we have found are set out in this paper, but some of the headlines make for grim reading. Prisoners cannot benefit from education or training if they are confined in their cells for long periods, and they inevitably become frustrated, angry or turn to drugs to ease the tedium. We have found that in local prisons 31% of prisoners report being locked in their cells for at least 22 hours a day, rising to 37% at young adult prisons (holding prisoners aged 18–21). We found large numbers of prisoners at some jails who were locked up for more than 22 hours a day, or throughout the working day.’

 The above is just a small extract from a damning report by England’s Chief Inspector of Prisons for 2016/2017. The report paints a picture of a service underfunded, understaffed and subject to regular riots mainly triggered by the conditions. Scotland’s prisons have known similar times in the past but according to the Chief Executive of Scotland’s Prisons, the situation here is much improved due to ‘consistent government’ and a fall in the prison population from 8 130 to 7 494 which is of course, still high by European standards. . Here’s an extract of what he said to Holyrood Magazine to explain the differences:

‘Compare that [England] fairly, and I think evidentially, with what’s happening in Scotland, and I think what we’ve benefitted from here…has been a consistent form of government. Some may disagree with that view, but I’ve been running the SPS for approaching six years now and no doubt, I have benefitted from a consistent requirement presentation from the Scottish Government in terms of what prisons should be doing, and that relationship, therefore, builds up over time.…I think we’ve had consistency and clarity of expectation. I think related to that has been, therefore, a consistent approach to the funding.’

He also praises the Scottish Government for its ‘political guts’ in reducing the prison population and in moving the system away from short-term sentences toward community justice and rehabilitation. He describes the former as ‘a complete waste of time, a complete waste of money, and in fact, they cause more damage than good’ and says he is ‘absolutely four square’ behind the Scottish Government.

This, of course echoes what the Nuffield Trust said of the relationship between government and NHS Scotland.


6 thoughts on “As England’s prisons sink into crisis, Scotland’s prisons benefit from a ‘consistent government’ with ‘political guts’

  1. Alasdair Macdonald October 31, 2017 / 5:24 pm

    Last week we had the report praising the beneficial effect of the Throughcare programme in reducing recidivism. The Cabinet Secretary was interviewed hostilely on Good Morning Scotland.

    The Secretary made – amongst other points – that the reduction in the number of sentences of less than one year allowed SPS staff to devote more time to rehabilitative actions such as Throughcare. When the policy of seeking to minimise the numbers of sentences of less than one year, the BBC phone-in was generally hostile, with opponents given the largest proportion of time.

    Most people who are in prison should not be there. Most suffer from a range of issues such as poverty, homelessness, alcohol and drug problems, mental health issues, low educational attainment, violence and other abuse in childhood. By locking so many convicted people up, money is being wasted and SPS staff are reduced to ‘turnkeys’. The present budget could be far better deployed into rehabilitative and restorative justice in the community. But, of course, advocating alternatives is always met by the questions – ‘Where is the money to pay for this coming from?’ (i.e. the no money tree argument.) and ‘do we really want rapists, violent thugs and murderers on our streets?’ No! These are very seldom sentenced to less than one year and, in the few cases when they are, the judge has usually taken intensive background reports into account.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. johnrobertson834 October 31, 2017 / 7:01 pm

    Yes, couldn’t agree with you more. I don’t know how you can bear to listen.


  3. Ludo Thierry October 31, 2017 / 8:17 pm

    Hi John et al – maybe I’m not going entirely off topic here. In an earlier thread today Scott highlighted the utter absence of any pursual of Colonel Davidson by the ‘Scottish’ press/media when she has been found out telling monstrous (and blatant) porkies. (Scott’s example being the utter rot she spouted on TV regarding the 6 week (minimum) Waiting Time for Universal credit having been reduced to 5 days).

    Well – the britnat media (Sunday Torygraph leading the pack) at the weekend were carrrying the story of tory MP Steve Crabb (former Welsh Secretary – sacked following a previous indiscretion) being involved in a case of ‘sexting’ to a teenage young woman. (No – I don’t have a clear idea about this process either – nor do I want one, thanks).

    It involved apparent “explicit” text messages the former Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb was reported (by the Sunday Torygraph) to have admitted sending to a 19-year-old woman after a job interview at Westminster in 2013.

    So far so sleazy. However, what the britnat media seem to be forgetting (oh so conveniently) is the very close political alliance between Colonel Davidson and Stephen Crabb. In a previous interview with the same Sunday Torygraph in 2016 Colonel Davidson was describing the same Steve Crabb as her “political soulmate” and tipping him as David Cameron’s replacement (see below):

    HEADLINE: ‘The Scottish Conservative leader has dismissed the current front-runners to replace David Cameron and claimed it will be one of the 2010 intake instead’

    By Kate McCann, Senior Political Correspondent
    12:01AM GMT 03 Jan 2016

    She backs none of the current runners and riders for Mr Cameron’s replacement, shunning George Osborne, Theresa May and Boris Johnson, instead suggesting it will be one of the 2010 intake that takes on the role.

    “I think there’s a few really, really competent and impressive people who demonstrate warmth as well as intelligence and I think that’s quite important in politics”, she says, adding she would “find it very hard to vote for anyone else” if Stephen Crabb, the Welsh Secretary, were on the ballot paper.

    She calls herself a “black swan”, having come to politics after a career in journalism and without connections in the party; and has a clear affection for colleagues who come from similar backgrounds to her own, dubbing Crabb her “political soulmate”.

    Yes – curious that no-one – not a single hack – in the entire establishment britnat msm/broadcast media pack seemed to remember that serial offender Steve Crabb MP is the Colonel’s (self-described) “..POLITICAL SOULMATE..” – Must all be suffering some kind of mass, political amnesia I suppose?

    Cheers, Ludo


  4. Clydebuilt November 1, 2017 / 12:12 pm

    I remember seeing Michael Gove being interviewed by Jon Snow re: prison cutbacks in England. Gove was adamant that violence within prisons would not escalate as a result of the cutbacks. . . Snow wasn’t convinced. Blatant rubbish from a politician who couldn’t care less.


  5. johnrobertson834 November 1, 2017 / 5:53 pm

    A Gove has now become, according to me, a word meaning slimy, spineless, fat-lipped and creepy.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s