Exclusive: shock figures reveal Scotland’s prisons NOT included in Observer report on state of UK’s (sic) ‘brutal’ prisons


(c) Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

From the Observer today:

‘Observer analysis of inspection reports shows two in five jails are unsafe and inadequate conditions prevail in over two-thirds. The scale of the crisis engulfing Britain’s (sic) prisons can be revealed, after an Observer investigation found that two-thirds are providing inmates with inadequate conditions or unacceptable treatment. An analysis of hundreds of inspections covering 118 institutions found that a staggering 68% are now providing unsatisfactory standards in at least one respect, with two in five jails deemed to be unacceptably unsafe.’

It’s only when we get down to the ninth paragraph that we read:

‘The Observer investigation found that in the most recent inspections of adult prisons in England and Wales, 80 out of the 118 jails examined were providing insufficient or poor standards in at least one area.’

and that this might be due to a 30% staffing cut since 2010 under Home Secretary, Theresa May.


I know, we’re all used to the conflation of UK with England but surely the ‘intelligent’ Observer could get it right? As you’ll see, I’m ‘sic’ (Latin for ‘thus was it written’; prætentious ?) of pointing it out.

But, wait a minute Jacobus, surely Scottish prisons are even rougher and proud of it (?) but, no, it seems we have another sign of the softening of the Scots like the lower homicide, domestic abuse and knife-handling rates that I’ve reported here. See this from David Strang (sounds like a strongman), HM Inspector Prisons (Scotland):

‘As Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland (HMCIPS), I am responsible for the inspection and monitoring of the conditions in prison and the treatment of prisoners. The general conditions in prisons have improved in recent years, as old prisons have been replaced or refurbished and new prisons have been built. The majority of prisons have modern facilities and residential accommodation of a suitable standard.  Across the 15 prisons in Scotland, prisoners have generally told me that they feel safe. It is a fundamental requirement of a well-run prison that people who live and work there should feel confident in its stability and order. We should never take for granted the good order that is maintained in Scotland’s prisons and that they are in general stable and secure environments.’ 


I met an older (even) Jock (it’s not racist when another Jock says it) yesterday, who was keen to have a wee rant about how the younger generation don’t remember and take pride in the old fighting Scots regiments and their willingness to die in battle at twice the rate of those soft English regiments. He’d be devastated by this news.


11 thoughts on “Exclusive: shock figures reveal Scotland’s prisons NOT included in Observer report on state of UK’s (sic) ‘brutal’ prisons

  1. Alasdair Macdonald. February 18, 2018 / 10:02 am

    The conflation of Britain/England is often arrogant ignorance of the other nations, but, often, it is a wilful choice, as I suspect it might be in this case. If the UK datum is bad then it is used because it tars Scotland with the same brush, even if there is data which shows Scotland is markedly better, which will either be ignored or hinted at later in the article. If there is a Scotland datum, which is poor relative to the rest of the UK it will be identified as such: “Scotland pure bad”. If the Scotland datum is in line with that of the UK, the argument is that this knocks ‘Scottish exceptionalism’ on the head. (The Torrancian trope, since we are into precious pretentiousness this morning!) ‘Scottish exceptionalism’ is, of course a unionist ‘straw man’.

    Anent your final paragraph and the hard man, I think that this gives the Scottish unionist branch parties and their media a headline “Scottish Jails – Feather -bedding Thugs”. Perhaps this would entice the shy Mr Mundell to make a statement.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. johnrobertson834 February 18, 2018 / 10:32 am

    In the Guardian/Observer as opposed to say Telegraph, I’d go for plain ignorance. I’d like to see Mundell in new series where Tories test the feather-bedding and the shower-rooms, of course, for a few days. Specially hard to grip soap supplied.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Alasdair Macdonald. February 18, 2018 / 11:38 am

      I suspect you are probably right with regard to the Guardian/Observer, because although they somewhat snootily trumpet their ‘progressivism’, they are essentially London newspapers.

      The Guardian does, however, have A SCOTLAND CORRESPONDENT, Mr Severin Carrell, whose job is to write ‘And here is another reason why Scotland is pure shite’. As you have pointed out, some other Guardian correspondents on other topics, such as housing, will refer favourably to Scottish data which contrasts with poor data for England and Wales. I suspect that is because they subconsciously see us as a foreign country.

      The Observer has Mr Kevin McKenna, who is not billed as a Scotland correspondent, but mainly writes on themes which are about things in Scotland. He tends to write these from his erstwhile Labour background, which is vaguely, where the Observer is editorially, and usually deals with things, such as sectarianism, which many of us pro-independence supporters recognise as issues – while we disagree with the Scotland is pure bad trope, we are also aware that there are many things which need to be addressed, as expressed by Alasdair Gray’s unearthed quote, “Work as if you are in the early days of a better nation’. We want independence, because yoked to this rapacious financial behemoth of the City, it is difficult to create that better nation.

      I know that many see Mr McKenna as ‘someone to be watched’, however, I think he is firmly on the independence side of the argument. The fact that he writes sometimes writes things which get some pro-independence agitated (including, at times, myself), could be charitably interpreted as ‘well, we need to confront these things and not sweep them under the carpet. And, we also have to remember than all journalists have to be ‘hacks’ at times, and I do not think the term is always as bad as it is painted. In a past life, I have engaged journalists to write particular copy because they are better at it than most of the rest of us. Being a ‘hack’ is a job, like a lorry driver, dressmaker, computer programmer and retired Professor.

      Liked by 2 people

      • johnrobertson834 February 18, 2018 / 3:34 pm

        Big Kev has me uncertain. Very defensive of Catholicism. Puts this first?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Alasdair Macdonald. February 18, 2018 / 6:39 pm

        Undoubtedly, Mr McKenna is quick to defend what he perceives as an attack on Catholicism. But he has also penned defences of the Free Kirk. His faith is clearly important to him and I have not detected any insincerity.

        But,I do not think it is a question of whether he ‘puts this first’. I would want any independent Scotland to be a secular state but to defend the rights of all faiths and none.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. bigjon999 February 18, 2018 / 3:19 pm

    I’d just written an e-mail to the 2 authors of the article (first name . second name @observer.co.uk – for anyone else who wants to contact them) asking why the article mentions “UK”, “Britain” and “England & Wales” when it is talking about England & Wales data. I’m not expecting a quick response but will send it on if I receive one.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. bigjon999 February 18, 2018 / 4:26 pm

    Another Grauniad article – this time about delays in handing over from ambulances to A&E units :
    No mention of Scotland or the UK – just laying it at door of English region, maybe comments to them about the distinction between Scotland/England/Wales/ N Ireland/UK are having some effect – at least on NHS journalists…

    Liked by 1 person

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