HM Inspectorate of Prisons: Report on HMP Greenock - February 2006

Prison - Full Inspection Report

Executive Summary

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Population, Accommodation and Routines

Custody and Good Order


Prisoner Management


Learning, Skills and Employabillity



Good Practice


Ponits of Note

ANNEX 1 Sources of Evidence

ANNEX 2 Inspection Team

The Scottish Ministers

In accordance with my terms of reference as HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland, I forward a report of a full inspection carried out at HMP Greenock between 5-9 December 2005.

Six recommendations and a number of other observations are made.

signature of ANDREW R C McLELLAN

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland

February 2006


1.1 There was clear evidence from prisoners that some of the things which are most important to them are well provided at Greenock. The report shows that Greenock is a safe prison. Food is among the most highly rated of all prisons in the SPS Prisoner Survey. It is good to note that all prisoners have a menu choice each day: this includes remand prisoners who are often excluded from such provision. In two halls fresh fruit and cereal are always available on a "help yourself" basis: this is quite exceptional. The canteen arrangements are also particularly good.

1.2 The report points to the good facilities and the good practice in the reception area. For all prisoners, but especially those coming in for the first time, the experience at reception is very important. In Greenock there is a part of one hall which is set aside for prisoners on admission: a special regime is therefore available for at least the first night. The visit room is large and bright and well equipped. It is large enough to make it possible for prisoners to have opportunities for visits more often than the minimum requirement. Visitors told inspectors that they were treated with respect by prison staff. The gym is small: but there is very good access for prisoners to PE, and prisoners were enthusiastic about the opportunities provided.

1.3 Some things need to be improved. The toilet arrangements in two halls are not good. Most prisoners are sharing cells: the toilet in the cell has a small "vanity screen" which offers little privacy from the other prisoner in the cell and no privacy from staff looking into the cell or entering it. In a few cells the toilet is completely unscreened. There is no sharing in such cells: but there should not be an unscreened toilet in a room where a prisoner sleeps, and may eat and may be locked up for long periods of time during the day. The decoration in the largest hall is poor. SPS has attempted to hold remand prisoners in the best conditions, and this attempt deserves credit. But the condition of the cells in which they are held in Greenock is shabby.

1.4 All sources of evidence agreed that relationships between staff and prisoners are very good. Prisoner groups and individual prisoners regularly described the relationships as the best they had known in a Scottish prison. This might not in itself be a good thing: for prisoners might describe as good relationships which were collusive or remote. But in Greenock it is clear that relationships are challenging as well as helpful and respectful.

1.5 A particular strength of Greenock is the outside work placements available to life sentence prisoners near the end of their sentences. Indeed, these work placements have been commented on favourably in inspection reports on every prison where they take place. At the time of inspection a newspaper report highlighting the presence of prisoners at two local colleges caused a temporary suspension of the placements. Such reports make it more difficult for the prisoners, and make it much more difficult for the college or the employer providing the placement. The alternative to such placements is that people who have committed very serious crimes will eventually be released into the community without having been tested at all outside the prison before their release, no matter how many years they have served inside prison. This kind of unprepared release is not good for public safety. Placements of this kind are a valuable part of the responsibility placed on prisons to reduce re-offending, and as such they should be supported. Without them the risks to the public may well be higher.

1.6 One of the three halls held women prisoners at the time of the 2004 inspection. That report indicated that the transfer of nearly 70 women from Cornton Vale had been well managed and that suitable provision had been made in Greenock for the needs of these prisoners. After two years of holding women that hall has changed again: now it holds mainly male long-term prisoners. Many, but by no means all, of them come from the local area. This report indicates that this new arrangement has also been well managed.

1.7 Concerns about the provision of healthcare were raised during the inspection. In particular, there was uncertainty about the number of hours which the doctor was supposed to be in the prison; Health Centre staff lacked motivation, there were issues about the prescribing of medications; and nurses normally stayed in the room during patient-doctor consultations.

1.8 Greenock is a "local prison", so it takes local prisoners in different categories. Every local prison in Scotland suffers badly from overcrowding. In Greenock the effects are concentrated in Ailsa Hall. Ailsa Hall was designed to accommodate 131 prisoners. On the first day of inspection the number being held was 187. This included 71 short-term convicted prisoners, five long-term adult prisoners, 90 adult remand prisoners, 17 young remand prisoners, and four convicted youths awaiting transfer to Polmont. These high numbers reflect the very high number of prisoners in Scotland at this time. Prisons are damaged by such overcrowding: damaged in the living conditions for prisoners, damaged in the working conditions for prison staff, and very damaged indeed in the possibility of contributing to helping prisoners stop committing crimes on release. Overcrowding makes it much less likely that imprisonment will do anything to reduce re-offending.

1.9 Moreover, the different categories of prisoners found in Ailsa Hall cannot be properly provided for. It is simply not possible in these restricted overcrowded conditions that the very different needs of long-term prisoners and short-term unconvicted young remand prisoners can be adequately met. The SPS tries to keep some categories of prisoners apart from others: unconvicted should not mix with convicted, under - 21 should not mix with adult. Even these basic provisions cannot be met in a local prison which is badly overcrowded: or they can only be met by keeping most prisoners locked up most of the time. The report suggests that Greenock prison does its best to cope with overcrowding. But overcrowding in prison makes things worse for everyone.



2.1 While Greenock is a relatively small prison, it holds a complex mix of prisoners: remands, prisoners under the age of 21, and short-term and long-term prisoners. On the first day of inspection 302 prisoners were being held:

Adult long-term prisoners:


Adult remand prisoners:


Adult short-term prisoners:


Under 21 remand prisoners:


Under 21 convicted prisoners (awaiting transfer to Polmont):


Accommodation and Routines

2.2 Greenock has three residential halls and a small Segregation Unit.

Ailsa Hall

2.3 Ailsa Hall provides accommodation for local short-term adult prisoners and adult remands. It also houses long-term prisoners awaiting transfer to their prison of allocation and young adults on remand or convicted awaiting transfer to Polmont. On occasion Ailsa houses immigration detainees who have been assessed as unsuitable for Dungavel.

2.4 The hall is designed to accommodate 131. On the first day of inspection 187 prisoners were unlocked. The average number of prisoners unlocked in December 2005 was 194.

2.5 The hall is divided into four floors. The ground floor is further sub-divided to create a section for new admissions known locally as the Assessment Unit. The Assessment Unit has a two and a three bed observation suite as well as a classroom for group sessions.

2.6 Protection prisoners are also held on the ground floor. The number of prisoners on protection was so high during the week of inspection that they were spilling over into the assessment unit. This meant that some prisoners arriving in the prison could not be located in the part of the hall set aside to deal with them. Staff in the hall said that ever increasing numbers of prisoners asking for protection meant this was a fairly regular occurrence.

2.7 All cells have electrical power in cell ( EPIC), televisions and kettles. A large room adjacent to the hall has the dual functions of a dining room and a recreation room. Recreation facilities are quite basic. There are five telephones in the hall and two in the recreation room. Prisoners said it was sometimes difficult to access a telephone at popular times. None of the telephones had canopies fitted so privacy and background noise were issues. This should be addressed.

2.8 There is widespread cell sharing in the hall, with most cells having bunk beds. There are fifteen single cells, which because of their design do not have screened toilets, and which are not used for sharing. The other cells have a screen partly obscuring the toilet. It is recommended that the toilets in all cells in Ailsa Hall should be in cubicles.

2.9 Overcrowding has the greatest impact on Ailsa Hall, and the transient nature of the population coupled with the volume of daily movements has had a damaging effect on the standard of decoration in the hall. Communal areas are relatively good but cells are very bad, particularly on the second floor. Staff attributed this to the fact that the second floor is where under-21's are located and they are the least conscientious in looking after their cells. However, all of the cells seen in the hall during inspection were in need of redecoration

2.10 Prisoners can exercise in the open air every day. Protection prisoners have their own separate session. The few prisoners who go to work during the day are offered access to the gym in the evening because they miss the exercise period. A way should be found to allow prisoners to attend work and have a period of access to the open air.

2.11 Of the protection prisoners held in Ailsa, local management identified that a significant number had committed offences with a sexual element. Rather than simply house these individuals until transfer, Greenock has developed a strategy for the management of sex offenders. This includes identification, interview, assessment, and the creation of a management action plan. This ensures that management are aware of, and have considered the risk posed by these prisoners and have a clear policy for managing them. This is an area of good practice.

2.12 Young adults on remand are also held in Ailsa, unlike HMP Barlinnie where they are transferred to HMYOI Polmont. Ailsa Hall is very busy and overcrowded and concern has to be raised over how well young remands can be managed in that setting. While the efforts of the prison to manage these young adults is noted, consideration should be given to transferring young adult remand prisoners to a more appropriate location.

Chrisswell House

2.13 Chrisswell House provides a national 'top-end' facility for adult male long-term prisoners serving four years or over who have reached a stage in their sentence where low supervision status has been achieved, and who are preparing for transfer to open conditions or release. A significant number of prisoners in Chrisswell are serving a life sentence. Much of the work in Chrisswell House centres around preparation for tribunals and sentence management related risks and needs assessments. In order that the benefits of Chrisswell House can be maximised it is normally maintained at full capacity.

2.14 Chrisswell has a capacity of 64, and on the first day of inspection 60 prisoners were living there. All prisoners are in a cell on their own. They also have a key to their own door so they can be out of their cell during patrol periods. During patrol periods the gates separating each section are locked. During the inspection the washroom area in one section on the ground floor was out of order, and the gate was left unlocked so prisoners could access the washrooms in the section opposite. This had not caused any problems.

2.15 The standard of decoration and cleanliness in the hall is excellent. However, the lower floor is darker and gloomier because it does not have the roof skylights that are in place on the upper floor. Natural light is also obscured by the number of plants blocking the section windows.

2.16 Each section has a snooker table, a soft seating area, two toilets and three showers. Everything was well appointed and it was clear that prisoners looked after their area.

2.17 Prisoners receive their meals in the cafeteria adjacent to the kitchen but bags of fruit and cereal are freely available in the hall. This is an area of good practice. There is also a microwave oven in each section for prisoners to cook items purchased from the canteen.

2.18 Outside the hall there are two Astroturf sports pitches. These can be used by prisoners at all times outwith patrol periods. They tend to be used in the evening and at weekends as most prisoners in Chrisswell are employed in the prison or go to a work placement in the community.

Darroch Hall

2.19 Darroch Hall is designed to hold 56 prisoners. On the first day of inspection 55 long-term prisoners were unlocked. The prisoners in Darroch are, in the main, from the Greenock/Inverclyde area.

2.20 Until August 2005 the hall held female prisoners: the women were then transferred to Cornton Vale. In the period between the women leaving and the men arriving, the hall was closed to enable staff to attend sentence management training. CCTV cameras were also installed, and the hall redecorated. Darroch was re-opened on the 22 August 2005 taking its first prisoner intake from Ailsa Hall. A structured regime has been introduced and all prisoners are allocated work parties. This change has been well managed.

2.21 Almost all of the 26 ground floor cells and a few of the 29 cells upstairs have bunk beds. During inspection only one cell was being shared by two prisoners. The cells are large and there is space for prisoners to move around even with bunk beds or if there were two occupants. All cells have toilets which are screened in the same way as Ailsa. It is recommended that the toilets in all cells in Darroch Hall should be in cubicles. All cells have EPIC, televisions and kettles.

2.22 Recreation facilities in the hall are good. There is a separate room with access to pool, table tennis and a large screen television as well as a microwave oven and tea making facilities. There is also a quiet room on the upper floor with a selection of books and board games. Prisoners appreciated the small library but expressed frustration that most of the books had been acquired for the women who previously lived in Darroch and were not suitable for men. There are three telephones which all have good sized canopies covering them. Prisoners said three telephones were enough for a hall the size of Darroch.

2.23 Most of the prisoners in Darroch work during the day. They can also attend exercise in the open air between 12.45 and 1.45. They have their own exercise yard. They collect and eat their meals in the dining room adjacent to the kitchen. There are two sittings for each meal. Darroch prisoners and Chrisswell prisoners go to the dining room in rotation. The system seems to work very well. Cereal and fruit are freely available to prisoners in the hall.

2.24 There is a converted cell on the ground floor that doubles as an information centre for prisoners, and a dispensary. It has well stocked leaflet stands filled with important information for prisoners. When necessary the bottom half of the door can be closed and prisoners issued their medication safely and securely. This works well.

2.25 The washroom areas on each floor are old but functional. The eight showers were clean and tidy: there were no shower mats.

2.26 Darroch's new regime has started well. Prisoners said they appreciated the opportunity to stay in their local prison rather than move to Shotts, Kilmarnock or Glenochil. The size of the hall is also conducive to the staff and prisoners getting to know each other.

Segregation Unit

2.27 The Segregation Unit is a small four cell area adjacent to Ailsa Hall. There were no prisoners in the Segregation Unit during the week of inspection. There is no permanent staffing in the Unit: when there are prisoners in the area they are managed by Ailsa Hall staff in addition to their existing duties. There is an emergency call button in each cell, which is linked to the call system in Ailsa Hall. However, given the lengthy periods of time which prisoners can spend in a Segregation Unit which does not have staff present, SPS should ensure that a robust system of supervision is in place in any such Unit.

2.28 Inspectors were told that one of the four cells was used only in extreme circumstances because it had no toilet or sink. The toilets in the other three cells are unscreened. There is no bed in any of the cells. Prisoners sleep on a mattress on a concrete plinth. Beds should be fitted in the cells and toilets should be screened.

2.29 A store room in the Unit holds an ample supply of clean and serviceable bedding. Prisoners are issued with fresh clothes on their arrival in the unit.

2.30 Prisoners exercise in a small yard adjacent to the Unit. There is no recreation. Prisoners can use the telephone in the Ailsa Hall dining room at times when the Ailsa prisoners are not in the area.


Security and Safety

3.1 There have been no escapes since the last inspection.

3.2 In 2004-05 there had been one serious prisoner-on-prisoner assault against a target of three. There were 37 minor prisoner-on-prisoner assaults in the same period. There had been three serious and twelve minor assaults in the period April 2005 to the time of inspection. There had been two serious prisoner-on-staff assaults against a target of one, and ten minor assaults in 2004-05. There had been no serious prisoner-on-staff assaults and six minor assaults between April 2005 and the time of inspection. There were no incidents of concerted indiscipline.

3.3 The prison continues to operate its Anti-Bullying Strategy when required.

3.4 There were no suicides in 2004-05 and none between April 2005 to the time of inspection. ACT documents were initiated on 173 occasions in 2004-05 and on 64 occasions from April to December 2005.

3.5 All sources of evidence agreed that relationships between staff and prisoners are very good. The SPS Prisoner Survey shows that 95% of prisoners rate relationships as " OK" or better: slightly lower than the SPS average. However, prisoner groups and individual prisoners regularly described the relationships as the best they had known in a Scottish prison.

Prisoner Complaints Procedure

3.6 Complaint procedure forms are available in residential areas. A sample of forms was viewed by inspectors. The answers given were reasonable and consistent. Timescales were met with only a few exceptions. Where there was a delay an interim reply was given.

3.7 Until recently complaint forms were recorded on a local database. This has now been superseded by the SPS Prisoner Records System ( PR2). However, not all CP's are being recorded on PR2. This should be addressed.

3.8 When a complaint has been through the system a copy of the paperwork is kept on file for reference, the original being retained by the prisoner. Overall, the Prisoner Complaints Procedure in Greenock is managed satisfactorily.

Prisoner Disciplinary System

3.9 Greenock averages ten reports each week under the disciplinary system, most of these coming from Ailsa Hall. This is not excessive for the size and function of the prison. Examination of a sample of reports and observation of Orderly Rooms, indicated that paperwork is completed satisfactorily and procedures followed. The Orderly Rooms take place in the halls, and the only observation here was that the room in Ailsa was cramped (but not oppressive). All operational members of the management team conduct Orderly Rooms, and given the number of people involved a formal monitoring system should be set up to ensure consistency.

Segregation Unit

3.10 Data collected by Greenock showed that the Segregation Unit was occupied on 192 of the 334 days between 1 January 2005 and 30 November 2005. On 86 of these days there had been more than one prisoner in the Unit and on three occasions all four cells had been occupied overnight.

Night Duty

3.11 The night shift consists of one manager and six officers. It was clear that the staff in contact with prisoners during the night knew their responsibilities and what action to take in an emergency. However, night shift instructions were not up to date. Some pages dated back to 1999 and others referred to the women prisoners who are no longer in the prison. Night shift instructions should be updated.

3.12 First aid equipment is located in each of the residential areas. Chrisswell House, which does not have a night shift patrol officer, is patrolled regularly. Prisoners in Chrisswell can contact the CCTV room by telephone in an emergency. The level of safety and security in Greenock during patrol periods is good.


Management and Policy

4.1 Addiction services are well co-ordinated within the prison. They are the responsibility of the Interventions Manager who is also the Drug Strategy Co-ordinator. This responsibility is exercised alongside a range of other functions including prisoner induction, management of the Links Centre, community placements and social work and learning centre liaison. As well as fulfilling the contract monitoring function between the Phoenix House service and the prison, the Interventions Manager manages the Mandatory Drug Testing Team and four Interventions Officers who have been trained in addictions. The Health Care Manager manages the two Addictions Nurses.

4.2 The Interventions Manager/Drug Strategy Co-ordinator reports on addictions issues to the Local Risk Management Group which is chaired by the Deputy Governor. The Phoenix House service manager attends this group. This group also provides links to the Multi-Disciplinary Mental Health Group. The Interventions Manager/Drug Strategy Co-ordinator sits on the Addictions Co-ordinators Forum, which is a national SPS group.

4.3 Individual cases are discussed at weekly multi-disciplinary Treatment and Care Meetings. These are attended by the Addictions Nurses, the Phoenix House service manager and caseworkers, the Drugs Strategy Co-ordinator and the Health Centre Manager.

4.4 There are also good links that ensure some continuity of care between the Addictions Nurses and their community equivalents in NHS Argyll and Clyde.

Addiction Treatment Process

4.5 Arrangements in Greenock reflect the national situation. The structure is going through a period of transition, from services previously provided by Cranstoun to a new contract provided by Phoenix House. There has been some continuity in that staff previously employed by Cranstoun are now working for Phoenix House. The new contract has been implemented incrementally since August 2005 and is scheduled to be fully operational by February 2006.

4.6 The addictions process begins with the Reception Risk Assessment and Nursing Assessment. Where appropriate a Drug Withdrawal Assessment Chart is completed. The assessment culminates in a score, and depending on this score, a range of responses can be provided including symptomatic relief and automatic referrals to the Phoenix House. Prisoners will also provide a 'dip test' for toxicity, which gives a result within 15 minutes.

4.7 Any prisoner who requires to see the doctor can usually do so within one day of admission, Sunday to Thursday. The doctor has the final say regarding prescribing. Some prisoners said that the prescribing policy for methadone is inflexible and does not sufficiently acknowledge individual circumstances.

4.8 On reception, the majority of prisoners go to Ailsa Hall and are allocated a cell in the Assessment Unit. The Core Screen Assessment includes a section on substance misuse which is completed by a member of the Interventions staff within 72 hours. This process is well supported by the Reception. Prisoners arrive and are seen on a one-to-one basis by a receiving officer and then a nurse. The health centre is immediately adjacent to the reception area.

4.9 There have been management issues regarding the reliable completion of the Core Screen Assessment for all prisoners in Ailsa. These were previously the responsibility of hall officers but they were unable always to prioritise this task alongside a range of other duties. Responsibility now lies with the Interventions Officers who scrutinise admissions on a daily basis and ensure that all prisoners are assessed.

4.10 Some prisoners spoken to were critical of the methadone dispensing process in Ailsa. At the time of inspection there were 47 prisoners prescribed methadone in Ailsa. Prisoners are responsible for getting their own breakfast when they are unlocked in the morning. They have a limited amount of time to get their roll before they are escorted to their work place elsewhere in the prison. Those being prescribed methadone also have to queue at the dispensary in the hall in order to collect their medication. The prisoners spoken to maintain that there is often not enough time to attend the dispensary and get breakfast before they are taken to work. This is causing friction between staff and prisoners in the hall.

4.11 There are far fewer prisoners being prescribed methadone in Darroch and Chrisswell (ten and eight respectively at the time of inspection). They are taken to the health centre to receive their medication and there does not appear to be any issue in relation to these arrangements.

Phoenix House

4.12 The full Phoenix House service is available only to those serving over 31 days. This includes remand prisoners. For those serving less than 31 days there is access to a harm reduction session and a harm reduction pack with referral information and practical advice.

4.13 Prisoners referred to Phoenix House contribute to the completion of a Common Addictions Assessment Recording Tool ( CAART) and the development of a Personal Care Plan. There are a range of services available including detoxification, methadone reduction, methadone maintenance, motivational interviewing, harm reduction and smoking cessation. There is also access to Narcotics Anonymous. Drug testing is available from the Mandatory Drug Testing team.

4.14 Phoenix House are well on the way to meeting their contractual obligations by the agreed date in February 2006. The service has established very positive working relationships with the Interventions Manager and his staff, the Addictions Nurses and with a range of other agencies working within the prison and externally. They provide a wide range of services on a contractual basis and there are monitoring arrangements in place to measure performance against targets. The service manager was very positive about the progress made since the transition and did not report any difficulties with issues such as the service timetable or access to prisoners.

Mandatory Drug Testing

4.15 There is a lack of clarity regarding the future of this service. This is a national issue however and since the announcement of the Addiction Prevalence Testing policy, the MDT Team has had little further information. Random drug testing is being carried out but only to generate statistical information. Suspicion, risk assessment, frequent, reception, liberation and voluntary testing are still taking place.

4.16 The service is provided by two officers who also have other responsibilities. The staff feel they link well to other addictions services. The service offers Frequent Drug Testing as a means to support prisoners who want to abstain from drugs while in custody. Phoenix confirmed that this can be a valuable component in an individual's care plan while they are in custody.


4.17 Phoenix has recently recruited a member of staff with a background in working with people with alcohol problems in a prison context. The service offers alcohol counselling and alcohol awareness. There is also access to Alcoholics Anonymous.

Community Links

4.18 The Inclusion Manager is a member of the local Alcohol and Drug Action Team ( ADAT) and the manager of Phoenix is also a member of two ADAT sub groups. The chair of the ADAT is a member of the local visiting committee. Good working links with external drug and alcohol services have also been established.

4.19 Phoenix has contractual links to the expanded Throughcare Addictions service provided on a partnership basis by six local authorities: Inverclyde, East Dunbartonshire, West Dunbartonshire, Argyll and Bute, East Renfrewshire and Renfrewshire. There are also a range of other agencies who have representatives present on a daily basis at the Links Centre, including housing, benefits and employment services.



5.1 Greenock has a purpose-built Reception. This is a bright and well-planned unit comprising a communal holding cell for new admissions with integral access to toilet facilities; a search area with showers; and a disabled WC. There are four reception cubicles, one of which is used as a store and a further communal holding cell for prisoners who have been through the reception process. At the entry, there is a reception desk with a staff office, WC and shower, and small pantry. There is a room for the prisoners who work in the reception area, an interview office and access directly to the health centre.

5.2 The layout of the reception area allows a very logical flow of admissions and provides the ability to separate those who have been through the reception procedure from those who have not.

5.3 It is policy at Greenock that the reception cubicles should not be used for holding prisoners except as a place to change, although occasionally those deemed to be in need of separation from others may be held there for a brief time. During the inspection it was observed that one prisoner admitted under the influence of alcohol, accompanied by the police, was appropriately held for a short period in a cubicle.

5.4 When prisoners are required to be held in the Reception over meal times there is provision for plated meals to come from the kitchen and be heated in a microwave. As far as possible, attempts are made to move prisoners to the residential halls quickly, although the volume of admissions often makes this impossible. The Reception is extremely busy, but despite this, it was observed that the atmosphere was relaxed and the relationships between reception staff and those being admitted, whilst appropriate, were also relaxed and informal.

5.5 The Reception has a telephone which is available for prisoners to use. There is also a well-appointed office where interviews can be conducted in privacy, allowing initial interviews and ACT interviews to be carried out in a discrete and appropriate manner. The proximity of the Reception to the Health Centre is a well-designed feature of this building, with a door accessing immediately into a holding room for the Health Centre.

5.6 Posters in a range of the most common foreign languages were on display. The Reception office has a direct line speakerphone which allows access to the National Translator Service. It was indicated that regular use has been made of this service.

5.7 Overall, the Reception impressed as a well run part of the prison where genuine efforts were made to preserve individual dignity in terms of searching and interview procedures, and by the relaxed manner in which staff dealt with individual issues.

5.8 It was noted that at the busiest time of day, when staff were dealing with prisoners returning from placements in Chrisswell, and court admissions in the early evening, routine admissions from a long-term prison also arrived. It was indicated that it was not uncommon for routine admissions to also arrive at this time. Given that there is a national escort contract it seems unnecessary that routine transfers, which are planned some time in advance, require to take place at a time when the reception is operating at its fullest capacity. The timing of routine inter-prison escorts should be examined.


5.9 Induction is provided by the social inclusion department. Four staff provide induction; run offending behaviour programmes; manage community placements; and operate the Links Centre. They work under the direction of one First Line Manager who also has other responsibilities within the prison. In turn, he is part of the team managed by the Inclusion Manager who is responsible for most of the prisoner activities.

5.10 On admission, prisoners are interviewed by reception staff and then go to the Health Centre where initial nurse screening takes place. Admissions are allocated to the Assessment Unit in Ailsa Hall which has 26 spaces split between the cellular accommodation, one three-person unit and one two-person unit. The two multi-occupancy units tend to be used for those deemed to be vulnerable or at risk. It is a feature of Greenock that those subject to the ACT to Care procedures are, as far as possible, co-located in these units in order to provide an element of company and supervision. The units have CCTV cameras which can be viewed from the Assessment Unit Office which also has windows into each of the areas.

5.11 During admission, prisoners are able to access Phoenix House, Jobcentreplus and APEX, and will be referred to other agencies who attend the prison as required.

5.12 Most prisoners will spend between one and three nights in the Assessment Unit depending on their level of need. They will receive a first night induction interview during which they will be encouraged to attend the induction programme. A list of those with addictions issues is also generated for Phoenix Drug Services to provide initial assessments and referrals. The Unit is staffed by one of two nominated officers who, although they do not work in induction at the same time, have devised a handover and case conference approach. Staff from the Assessment Unit attend and participate in case conferences.

5.13 The Assessment Unit suffers from the same overcrowding as Ailsa Hall generally, and by the fact that one third of its accommodation regularly holds prisoners being kept out of association on protection rather than just those on admission. Despite this, the Assessment Unit impresses as a well run and purposeful part of the prison.

5.14 Prisoners receive induction in the Links Centre where the Core Screening Instrument is used and a Community Integration Plan developed for all prisoners serving over 31 days. The target for completion of this is 72 hours, although it is normally done within 24 to 48 hours. The Inclusion Administrator manages the database for all prisoners. The information from the Core Screening Assessment is added to the database and from this referrals are generated.

5.15 Induction takes place on a Tuesday and a Thursday. The national SPS induction is delivered, additionally an educational assessment ( ALERT) is carried out. In addition to this induction, prisoners are referred to the PTIs for a fitness assessment and PT induction programme to allow them to access the gymnasium.

5.16 Although a Community Integration Plan is provided for all prisoners serving over 31 days there is no system in place for the regular review of these plans to ensure that appropriate referrals have taken place. This should be addressed. Additionally there is no structured pre-release programme within Greenock. This should also be addressed.

5.17 It is a feature of induction/inclusion/throughcare at Greenock that a very small number of people provide many of the services. From the description given it would appear that regular contact takes place but in the form of ad hoc rather than formal meetings. It is important that a clear management structure exists to ensure that both strategic direction and day-to-day operational matters are occurring and that audits take place. It is recommended that a comprehensive review of the management and meetings structure within Rehabilitation and Support takes place.

Sentence Management

5.18 As mentioned elsewhere in this report, long-term prisoners are held in Chrisswell House and Darroch Hall. Chrisswell House is a National facility, holding prisoners serving between four years and life, and who have met the SPS qualifications for admission to a 'top-end'. From Chrisswell it is envisaged that prisoners will continue their preparation for release by a staged programme of exposure to community access, including special escorted home leaves, unescorted visits and opportunities to work in the community in supervised placements. These stages are normally in response to targets, agreed with the Parole Board, or contained in the SPS's internal Sentence Management procedures.

5.19 Prisoners admitted to Chrisswell will receive an initial interview within 24 hours. Normally prisoners coming to Chrisswell will be doing so as part of a planned move and consequently will have had a risk and needs assessment carried out in the sending establishment. In a small number of cases this had not been completed. This should be addressed. Chrisswell maintains the database for all long-term prisoners within Greenock; admissions are logged in the database which then generates targets for the various elements of the Sentence Management Scheme. All eight Chriswell House officers are Risk and Needs Assessment trained and act as Personal Officers. Each month the targets for Risk and Needs Assessments, Action Planning, etc are identified from the central database and allocated for completion. These are subsequently audited by the First Line Manager. Currently, Greenock has 100% compliance with the timescales.

5.20 Darroch Hall holds prisoners serving between four and twelve years, who are either direct admissions to Darroch or prisoners receiving qualifying sentences at court, or transfers in from other prisons who meet the sentence criteria. Darroch started admitting long-term prisoners in August 2005, therefore November was the first month in which Sentence Management targets were identified: 100% compliance with all targets was achieved.

5.21 Examination of a sample of Sentence Management folders showed that these were completed to a good standard. As has been the case in other inspections, some of the targets set for individuals tend not to be particularly challenging. SPS is currently reviewing the Sentence Management process as part of its development of Integrated Case Management. The Inspectorate will pay particular attention to how this is introduced and what impact it may have on setting targets in the future.

5.22 It was noted during the inspection that long-term prisoners were arriving in Chrisswell only for some to move on within a week or so. It is unclear what real value there is in moving a long-term prisoner from a closed prison to a national top-end and then, before any work or assessment is carried out with the individual, he qualifies for a transfer to the Open Estate. It is recommended that the practice of transferring some prisoners to Chrisswell House for very short periods of time is reviewed.


5.23 The Links Centre provides the base for Throughcare. A wide range of internal and external providers use the Centre and there appears to be very good relationships between SPS and non- SPS staff and providers. It was encouraging to note that there is a regular (quarterly) partnership meeting allowing all those who provide services at Greenock a forum for discussion. The inclusion and rehabilitation agenda is directed by the Rehabilitation and Care Group, chaired by the Deputy Governor, which meets quarterly and from this each area of inclusion has sub-meetings as required. These meetings should be formalised.

5.24 The Links Centre itself is located in what was formerly the VT painters workshop and provides an attractive and bright area as a base for agencies. The area upstairs is currently being refurbished in order to provide office and support accommodation.

Life Sentence Prisoners

5.25 By definition, the national top-end holds a high number of life sentence prisoners and at the time of inspection 45 of the 60 prisoners within Chrisswell House were serving life sentences. The result of this is a major requirement on the part of the prison to prepare for, and represent SPS at discretionary life sentence tribunals of the Parole Board (in the past year Greenock has prepared for and represented SPS at 24 tribunals). It is normally the Deputy Governor who is responsible for leading at tribunals. As part of the preparation for the tribunals, the Deputy Governor meets with prisoners and informs them of the content of the prison report. It is felt that this allows the prisoner the opportunity to understand what is being said and have an opportunity to prepare a response. Additionally, the prisoner is taken through the process and is shown the location of the tribunal. This is an area of good practice.

5.26 The casework for long-term prisoners is considered through the monthly Risk Management Group which will consider any issues involving long-term prisoners and lifers, including issues around community placements, upgrades, downgrades, etc. It is at this meeting that decisions are made on managing prisoners and in particular ensuring that they have addressed their offending behaviour. It is noted that some serious offending behaviour needs are not identified at an early stage in some prisoners' sentences, resulting in prisoners who may have been nearing release, being diverted to completing appropriate programmes instead. Such needs should have been identified before transfer to Chrisswell. This detailed scrutiny provides good assurance in respect of managing the risk which individuals may pose. It is recommended that serious offending behaviour needs of life sentence prisoners are addressed at an appropriate point of the sentence.

5.27 For long-term prisoners who qualify, quarterly Special Escorted Leaves ( SEL) can be taken to an approved place: most often the family home. With the introduction of the national escort contract, these leaves are escorted by Reliance Custodial Services staff. Previously SPS staff, often Personal Officers, carried out these escorts and were able to observe individuals and meet their families. All of this contributed to their knowledge of the long-term prisoners they managed. The RCS staff are required to complete a post SEL Report. Examination of a number of these was carried out and the results were mixed. The reports are mainly factual and can contain as few as 11 words of comment. This provides little information on how an individual may have interacted with family. The content of the post Special Escorted Leave Reports should be improved.

Community Placements

5.28 Greenock is one of the small number of prisons where it is possible for some prisoners to work in the community during the day as part of their preparation for release. After careful risk assessments, life sentence prisoners (who are approaching the end of their sentence) may be given the opportunity to take up a work place or a study place. For prisoners who have spent many years in prison this can be a daunting and testing prospect. This report suggests that there is good evidence that this kind of experience can be very valuable in the development of the social skills and the personal skills - and the skills for employment - which will be needed when people who have spent many years in prison find themselves once more within the community.

5.29 This scheme for community placements works very well in Greenock. The first evidence of that is the inspection of the records which show that very careful risk assessments are made before any prisoner is considered for such a placement and show that great care is taken in preparing the prisoner and the employer for a placement. Moreover, the records show that there is regular support of the placement, both of the employer and of the prisoner, from the prison throughout its life. If there is room for improvement in the scheme it might well be that more time might be made available to strengthen the support of employer and prisoner which the prison is able to give.

5.30 The second evidence of the value of these placements is the evidence of prisoners themselves. Of course prisoners are likely to say that the placements are good, because they would prefer to be outside rather than inside during the day. But the reports which prisoners make on the experience of community placement go far beyond a report that they found it enjoyable. They speak repeatedly of the sense of being trusted, of the sense of growing confidence, of the sense of responsibility which these placements offer to them. The account which prisoners give of the value of placements is corroborated by the prison staff who supervise the placements who are equally clear that prisoners grow in confidence, grow in social skills, grow in self-respect and grow in a sense of responsibility as a result of community placements.

5.31 Perhaps the most striking evidence of the value of these schemes of work in the community is that provided by the employers who participate in the scheme. Inspectors were able to interview such employers and were very struck by the enthusiasm which was conveyed. The range of community placements includes large retail outlets, small charity shops, churches and study opportunities at further education colleges. A cross-section of those supervising the placements were unanimous in their opinions that they were well supported by the prison; that prisoners not only behaved well in the placements but made significant contributions; and that they caused no difficulties with colleagues or with the public. The evidence from those placements was singularly impressive. If such placements make it more likely that life sentence prisoners will be better able to fit into society and make a useful contribution upon release then they make a significant contribution to public safety and should be encouraged. The evidence from Greenock suggests that they make precisely that contribution. From time to time, there is Press interest in such placements, it would be very good if such interest would occasionally stress the benefits to public safety as well as to the prisoners of such placements. It would also be good if the courage of those employers and colleges who make the scheme possible was recognised.

5.32 At the time of this inspection there was some Press publicity which might have been damaging to the scheme. The publicity was about the fact that prisoners were in the process of participating in this kind of preparation release, and not at all about anything which had gone wrong with such a placement. It is easy to see how such publicity might make things very difficult for the placement supervisor and for the prisoner. Inspectors had the opportunity to interview the supervisors involved in the cases and were very reassured by the serious way in which they had, as a result of the publicity, consulted those most likely to come in contact with the prisoners on placement. They, and the Inspectors, were much reassured by the positive determination of the colleagues of the prisoners on the placements that the placements were valuable and should be continued. The supervisors were equally determined that the good work which was taking place in these placements should not be undermined.


Physical Environment

6.1 The Health Centre at Greenock is clean and the décor relatively fresh. The layout is cramped with one corridor partially blocked by medical case notes. This could constitute a fire hazard. The case notes are not current records and should be archived elsewhere. The Health Centre has adequate equipment to meet healthcare needs.

Access to Healthcare

6.2 Prisoners are brought to the Health Centre for most treatments rather than delivering healthcare in the halls. There is one officer dedicated as a 'runner'. This officer starts at 0900 in time for the doctor's surgery. This was generally felt to be adequate.

6.3 As is common throughout SPS, prisoners complete a form requesting a medical appointment. They are then triaged, in the residential areas, by nursing staff.

6.4 Medications (which are mostly drug detoxification and maintenance programmes) are dispensed in 'A' hall four times per day. Prisoners from Darroch and Chrisswell go to the Health Centre between 0800 and 0830. An emergency trolley is kept at the Health Centre, however there is no emergency care provision in the Halls. This should be addressed.

Nursing Services

6.5 The nursing complement of twelve is filled at present, although one practitioner nurse was on maternity leave and another was due to leave in December. The introduction of the two new addiction nurses provides an opportunity to build good communication links between healthcare staff and Phoenix House. This is already having a positive impact on the overall service to prisoners. However there is only one mental health nurse in post.

6.6 Nurses normally stayed in the room during prisoner consultations with the doctor, although they will leave at the prisoner's request. This should be the exception rather than the rule and only for good clinical or safety reasons. Prisoners should not have to request that nurses leave.

6.7 The nursing staff spoken to were all committed but it was apparent that the current working arrangements were not motivating. Dealing with medication and general administration generates the highest volume of work for nurses. They are therefore involved in a great deal of non-clinical work. There has been no development in nurse led clinics and the nurses have not had any specific training, for example, in asthma or diabetes. There is little evidence of any audit/quality assurance being carried out. These issues should be addressed to ensure that administrative duties are minimised and that nurses are given the opportunity to develop their clinical and auditing/quality assurance skills. Although staff felt supported and were given opportunities to do some in-house training on SPS issues, there was little evidence of formal clinical supervision and professional development. A Royal College of Nursing learning representative is available and should be utilised more fully.

6.8 The prison has achieved the Scottish Health At Work ( SHAW) silver award. There are links with the community health centre and staff from there occasionally come to the prison. Smoking cessation sessions are available for prisoners and staff. The Mental Health nurse has established good links with Napier University regarding health promotion.

Medical Services

6.9 General medical care is arranged through the central SPS Medacs contract. Two doctors provide cover although one doctor is contracted to provide the majority of care, including on call. The actual medical input is variable. There was uncertainty about the number of hours which the doctor was spending in the prison. It is also of concern that Medacs have occasionally failed to provide medical cover to the prison despite having advance notice that the doctors will be on annual leave. Staff have written several letters of complaint to Medacs but the results have been unsatisfactory. These issues should be resolved.

6.10 On call cover is provided seven nights per week. When the doctor is called out of hours, the prisoner is normally sent direct to hospital, without clinical examination. This should be reviewed. Three-monthly reviews of medication prescriptions are not carried out by medical staff. In one instance a patient was prescribed a strong analgesic for over three years and in another situation a prisoner had difficulty getting medication for pain relief. These issues should be reviewed. Chronic illness management is not established in a formalised way. Consequently, there are no medical led clinics and, as stated above, no nurse led clinics. Chronic illness management should be formalised.

Mental Health Services

6.11 A Multidisciplinary Mental Health Team ( MDMHT), chaired by the Deputy Governor meets every fortnight and oversees the mental health provision for the prison. To date the Consultant Psychiatrist has not attended the meeting but can see the benefit and is willing to do so in future.

6.12 NHS Argyll & Clyde provide psychiatric input through two consultant forensic psychiatrists. Liaison between the forensic psychiatrists, the forensic community psychiatric nurses at NHS Argyll & Clyde and the mental health nurse at the prison is very good. This liaison extends to the courts and to social work departments. The mental health nurse has a good awareness of all prisoners with a severe and enduring mental health problem. Such prisoners are referred to the forensic psychiatrists. However, it was highlighted, that due to only one mental health nurse being in post, this good liaison is compromised when the nurse is on leave.

6.13 Two psychiatrists are contracted for four hours per week. They are very well supported by the Mental Health Nurse.

6.14 Prisoners presented with a range of mental health problems and the psychiatrist spoken to felt that mental health issues were dealt with reasonably well within the available resources.

Suicide Prevention

6.15 In the last year there have been no suicides at the prison. An ACT meeting is held bi-monthly, and this includes the Deputy Governor, the mental health nurse, the ACT co-ordinator and two Listeners. This Group proactively manages the ACT strategy. Eighty eight per cent of staff are trained in the new ACT2 CARE process with mechanisms in place to address the other 12%.

6.16 The management of prisoners who are assessed and placed on ACT is very good. The ACT co-ordinator has overall responsibility for ACT implementation and for the 18 Listeners. Case conferences for prisoners placed on ACT are normally carried out within 24 hours and prisoners are moved to the observation cell in Ailsa hall. This ensures that the correct levels of observation are carried out. The Listener Scheme is very well run and there is good liaison between the prison and the Samaritans. Listeners are provided with certificates when appropriately trained.

Psychology Services

6.17 Two psychologists provide a total of three days input per week. A local Rehabilitation and Care Group, chaired by the deputy governor oversees the psychology input including the supervision of the work of the programme officers.

6.18 Referral systems to psychology are now established and the average waiting time to be seen is one week. This includes referrals for risk assessment and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

Dental Services

6.19 The dental equipment in the Health Centre is equivalent to that in a community based dental practice. The dentist attends on a Friday evening. Prisoners are seen within four to six weeks.


6.20 The Pharmacy is organised through the contract with 'Alliance'. The pharmacist visits the prison once a week to provide advice on the storage, administration and handling of drugs; to maintain the emergency equipment; and to review the pharmacy financial reports.


6.21 The optician holds a clinic every two to three months. Although this service appears to be based on the availability of the optician, it is comparable with NHS provision.


6.22 Podiatry services are supplied by the NHS once every three months, and again this is comparable with NHS provision.


6.23 Physiotherapy services are provided by the NHS, and prisoners are escorted to local services in the community.


6.24 Concerns about the provision of healthcare were raised during the inspection. In particular, there was uncertainty about the number of hours which the doctor was spending in the prison; the current working arrangements were not motivating; there were issues about the prescribing of medications; and nurses normally stayed in the room during patient-doctor consultations. It is recommended that healthcare arrangements are reviewed.



7.1 All aspects of learning, skills and employability ( LSE) come under the responsibility of the Inclusion Manager. A Prisoner Employment Manager is responsible for work parties and vocational programmes. The Learning Resource Centre Manager is responsible for learning provision. The SPS contract for the provision of LSE in Greenock Prison started on 1 April 2005, and is held by Motherwell College.

Staffing and Resources

7.2 All staff involved in LSE are suitably qualified, committed and enthusiastic. All learning centre staff hold suitable professional qualifications and all officer instructors are qualified tradesmen working towards their A1 assessor awards. LSE staff are committed to delivering a high quality and relevant service to prisoners. Operational managers provide effective leadership to their teams, and were communicating a clear vision to staff about the future direction of work within their responsibility. However, LSE provision overall lacks a strategic vision designed to promote communication and collaboration.

7.3 The new learning resource centre opened three years ago and staff had influenced its design. It offers a high standard of accommodation for learning, including specialist areas for ICT and art. However, some teaching areas are small. The accommodation used by vocational workshops is suitable for purpose, but a lack of space limits prisoner participation. Accommodation for physical education is good overall.

7.4 Prisoners and staff have access to a good range of resources to support LSE activity, well suited to the client group. The learning centre has access to an adequate number of PCs. Skill-based workshops were using sufficiently up-to-date and relevant equipment for current employment. Prisoners do not have access to the internet which resulted in them being unable to complete certain qualifications.

7.5 A library is situated in the learning resource centre and each of the accommodation blocks. An organised lending system had operated previously, but currently prisoners simply take books that they want without the need to return them. No records are maintained about who is taking books and which books they are taking. Books are donated from local charities and so prisoners have only very limited influence on what is made available. Learning centre staff contact the local libraries service if a prisoner requests a particular book. The range of books available in Darroch Hall is not well matched to the current prisoner mix. The central library resource takes up valuable space within the learning centre, and consideration should be given to whether the books held there would be better distributed to the accommodation blocks.

Access to Learning, Skills and Employability

7.6 All prisoners are introduced to LSE opportunities during induction. The prison operates the SPS Core Plus model, enhanced to offer opportunities to those on remand who have an indictment. There are sufficient work places for long-term prisoners, but insufficient for those on shorter sentences. Attendance at learning centre programmes is often well below capacity due to an insufficiently rigorous system of allocating and monitoring LSE activities. Learning centre staff have responded by increasing their anticipated list of attendees beyond the capacity of the unit in an attempt to maintain numbers.

7.7 Prisoner access to leisure-based and certificated physical education ( PE) has increased by 50% in six months. Prisoners can access PE during evenings and on Sundays. The range of activities offered has expanded, and staff offered an holistic approach to health and fitness through good links with health professionals, the Links Centre and the learning centre. These are areas of good practice.

Assessment of Need

7.8 All prisoners attending induction complete an 'Alerting Tool' intended to highlight significant need in literacy and numeracy. This is further researched by use of the Basic Skills Assessment where required. The learning centre use this, and other, information from the prisoner to create an agreed Individual Learning Plan or Learning Log as appropriate. Just under 80% of prisoner learning hours are dedicated to the provision of support for basic skills.

7.9 Processes for assessment of need are comprehensive and robust. Learning centre staff have created a computer database to track all aspects of progress, including anticipated dates for review. Staff in work parties refer prisoners for literacy and numeracy support from the learning centre as required, although staff had worked more closely to provide appropriate support for prisoners until recently.

Delivery of Learning

7.10 Almost all staff were engaging well with prisoners, capturing their enthusiasm and using an appropriate range of methods. Staff prepare very well for activities and classes, making good use of pre-prepared materials which are well designed. Commendably, VT staff have been collaborating with other prisons to make standard certificated course materials more suitable for the prison environment and prisoners. Staff use a range of approaches to maintain interest and to match the needs of the group, including groupwork, direct teaching, practical work and simulation. Staff are aware of prisoners' needs and aspirations and spend time ensuring that the learning experience is relevant to them.

Prisoners' Learning Experiences

7.11 Classrooms in the learning centre are well decorated and well ventilated, providing a suitable learning environment. Staff in vocational work parties have made good use of available space, but some spaces are small. Prisoners are encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning and are able to collaborate and support each other. Staff make effective links between prisoner's learning experiences. Prisoners use ICT to research designs which they then use to decorate trinket boxes. They also use ICT to write letters to family and friends.

7.12 Prisoners were very positive about their experiences in LSE. They were particularly positive about their acquisition of skills which could be used on release. Prisoners' views of LSE are regularly sought through weekly focus groups. This provides important feedback to staff and has resulted in a number of changes to both programmes and delivery. Physical education staff have invited local people with additional support needs into the gymnasium. Prisoners are able to work together with these people, and the initiative has resulted in work placements. This is an area of good practice.


7.13 Physical education did not offer any accredited courses before 1 April 2005. They are now delivering Heartstart and Manual Handling qualifications, with plans to extend this further. Staff were also developing Scottish Progression Awards in work parties. Although at an early stage, staff planned to roll these out to all work areas. The learning centre operates a cash incentive scheme to promote achievement. Prisoners were achieving a range of qualifications from access three through to higher and an HNC in Legal Studies.

7.14 Learning centre staff have successfully secured Lottery funding to support work in drama and the creative arts. Overall, however, the prison should continue to increase the range and breadth of accredited opportunities, and should develop ways of celebrating success and recognising achievement.

Ethos and Values

7.15 Staff enjoy a good working relationship between the LSE provider and the prison. The Inclusion manager maintains a regular overview of progress towards targets. VT staff work collaboratively and refer prisoners to the learning centre for literacy and numeracy support. However, the lack of an overall vision and strategy for LSE provision within the prison is impeding collaborative working and limiting positive outcomes for prisoners.

7.16 Relationships between staff and prisoners in LSE activity are almost universally good. Relationships amongst prisoners in workshops and classes were positive, helped by the relaxed atmosphere. Staff create a positive ethos of achievement, particularly in classes leading to a clear output or qualification.

Quality Assurance

7.17 All staff comply rigorously with the procedures required by awarding bodies for accredited courses. They compile reports for SPS on progress towards targets on a monthly basis, and the learning centre had recently been subject to a secondary assurance check conducted by SPS staff. The Inclusion manager holds regular meetings with operational managers to discuss progress. However, LSE provision does not operate a quality assurance system to ensure continuous improvement of teaching and the learning experience.


7.18 LSE provision is good. Prisoner learning experiences are good and opportunities for gaining accredited qualifications were improving. However, the lack of a coherent strategic vision for LSE provision had resulted in the different LSE providers not working sufficiently closely together. Prisoner learning experiences would be further enhanced by the development of shared targets and complementary programmes.


Family Contact

8.1 The role of the Family Contact Development Officers has been developed over the past year. One FCDO Manager and ten FCDOs are now in post. These duties are in addition to other duties within the prison. Photographs of the FCDOs are clearly displayed in the visits room and visitors spoken to knew who they were. The FCDOs have a dedicated office, but this appeared to be very underused. It contains a telephone line with an answer machine. However, given the shift patterns there is a possibility that messages received by one officer might not be shared with others or acted on promptly. The prison should develop a system of noting and monitoring requests made to the FCDOs by visitors and the action taken in response to such requests.

8.2 A comprehensive Family Information booklet is available in the waiting room and in the visits room. This provides information about visits generally, and about the prison. A shorter information leaflet is also available in the waiting room. This contains a 'tear off' comments slip which can be put in a box in the waiting room. This is an area of good practice.

8.3 Given the diversity of the prisoner mix in Greenock some thought has been given to ensuring good access to visits. Four 50 minute sessions are provided each weekday, as well as three sessions on Saturdays and Sundays. Parent and child visits take place on a Saturday morning. This appears to work, although the prison would like to find ways of increasing the number of sessions available to prisoners in Darroch Hall.

8.4 An attempt had been made to run a 'family awareness' session but the take up was low. Another is planned and it is to be hoped that take up will be higher. The prison should continue to run the family awareness sessions and be proactive in advertising them.

8.5 The waiting room was clean and tidy, and the visits room itself is a very good facility. There is a canteen and a crèche. Supervision of the visits was discrete.

8.6 Visitors spoken to said that staff were polite and that visits were easy to book. They had no complaints about the visiting arrangements.

8.7 Prisoners in Chrisswell House have access to unescorted home visits as a preparation for release.

Social Work

8.8 The social work department was fully staffed at the time of inspection. There is a senior social worker, three full time social workers and one temporary agency social worker who was recruited to backfill as a result of the senior social worker's recently completed secondment to the national 'Visor Team'. There is also one full time administrator.

8.9 Although Greenock is relatively small, the team's workload reflects the variety of regimes in place. The service is responsible for and operates across the three halls and covers all prisoners.

8.10 Having said that, the team focuses almost exclusively on statutory work including short and long-term sex offenders, remand schedule one prisoners, supervised release orders and life sentences. They also link with addictions and mental health services. The team has limited resources and limited administrative support and prioritise the target groups of schedule one and sex offenders; individuals to be released on licence; and high risk offenders including those on remand.

8.11 The team identifies individuals in target groups through the admissions notification procedure administered by the Court Desk in the prison. The senior social worker and one other social worker take responsibility for prioritising referrals. They feel this system works well and is generally reliable.

8.12 The team has an assessment tool that uses information from social work sources such as the Social Enquiry Report. They also have access to the Risk Assessment and Core Screen Assessment completed at reception and admission. They have clear responsibilities around issues such as child protection. The senior social worker decides whether or not a case is allocated and chooses a review date. If the task is completed at the time of the review the case is closed or a further review date is set. The volume of statutory work required precludes the allocation of cases and the work of the team tends to be focused on specific tasks.

8.13 One social worker has completed the 'Change' programme training. This programme enables men convicted of domestic abuse offences to address their offending behaviour. There is no programme in the prison but the worker is able to assess and prepare individual prisoners for participation in local programmes on release. This work supports Throughcare planning and risk management.

8.14 There can be occasional difficulties in getting access to prisoners, mainly because there are a range of agencies seeking similar access and the process is not co-ordinated. This is a problem mainly in relation to prisoners in Ailsa. However, the social workers acknowledge that prison staff do their best to facilitate contact. They enjoy good working relationships and recognise that space is at a premium.

8.15 Serious concerns were expressed about their cramped accommodation. There is one room for the senior, one for administration and one for all of the social work staff. The rooms are small and the staff room is particularly cramped with room for little more than four desks. It is not easy to work in this environment when all four staff members are present. There is no separate meeting space. Despite the arrangement where the team can book meeting rooms elsewhere in the prison, there are concerns that the impending implementation of the Phase Two Throughcare arrangements will create even greater pressure. The team estimate that they will be expected to host up to 150 multi-disciplinary meetings a year. There is only one SPIN terminal in the office.

8.16 A three-way meeting was observed between a social worker, an addictions nurse and a psychiatric nurse regarding planning for the release of a prisoner on a Supervised Release Order. The case indicated the complexity of need and levels of risk that are being managed, and the key co-ordinating role that social work has in that regard. The meeting took place in the room in which four social workers are located, while another member of staff was working at their desk. This is not a satisfactory working environment. It is recommended that the accommodation for the social work team is improved, and that adequate space for sensitive social work interviews is provided.

8.17 The team links externally to Inverclyde Council and the senior social worker is line managed by the Criminal Justice Service Manager. The team also has Throughcare links with the criminal justice social work partnerships: Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, Inverclyde, East Dunbartonshire, West Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute. There are regular meetings and the senior social worker attends the High Risk Offenders Management Group. There are also good links with other community based services.

8.18 The social workers are well integrated into the prison management structure and feel their work is valued by prison staff. There is recognition of their pivotal role in relation to risk assessment and risk management. The senior social worker attends the Risk Management Group and Mental Health Group meetings once a week. The team also enjoys positive and productive relationships with other agencies in the prison including addictions and mental health services and the agencies who use the Links Centre.

8.19 There are national issues regarding the management and funding of prison social work services that impact on the service at Greenock, including the capacity of the service to meet the new demands arising from the implementation of the Phase Two Throughcare arrangements.

8.20 Overall the social work service in Greenock is working well and is meeting core statutory duties and responsibilities. The team has established effective working relationships both within the prison and with a range of external statutory and voluntary agencies.


8.21 The programmes team comprises four members of staff, and is now referred to as 'Rehabilitation and Support'. The team is part of the Inclusion Department, and the workload includes induction, the Links Centre and administering the Core Screen Assessment.

8.22 Two accredited and four approved programmes are in place:


Cognitive Skills

Anger Management


Drug Action for Change


Alcohol Awareness

Anxiety and Sleep

8.23 While there had been a slight backlog in delivery in the middle of the year when the team was one member short, plans were well in hand at the time of inspection to meet targets.

Race Relations

8.24 One Race Relations Manager ( RRM) and two Race Relations Officers are in post. These duties are in addition to others within the prison. A Race Relations Monitoring Group is in place, although the last meeting was poorly attended. This Group should be reinvigorated and should meet on a regular basis. The RRM is involved in external meetings and groups such as the West of Scotland Racial Equality Council.

8.25 There were seven ethnic minority and five foreign national prisoners being held at the time of inspection. Six of the seven ethnic minority prisoners were of British origin. The prison was not able to quickly identify the number of ethnic minority and foreign national prisoners being held, and where they are being held in the prison. This should be addressed.

8.26 Systems are in place to provide help to prisoners who do not speak fluent English. Diets are also met.

8.27 The Racial Incident Action Form had been used on five occasions during the past year. These had involved prisoners verbally abusing members of staff. All of these incidents had been investigated fully and dealt with appropriately.


8.28 The chaplaincy team comprises two Roman Catholic and one Church of Scotland chaplains. They are supported by the Salvation Army and the Prison Fellowship. The team is becoming more involved in the inclusion agenda. A member of the team provides a weekly information session in the Links Centre. The team is also a member of the Multi Disciplinary Mental Health Team.

8.29 Attendance at Sunday worship sessions is not good. No prisoner from Darroch has attended since the women left. Very few from Ailsa attend unless a chaplain goes to the hall that morning and asks if anyone would like to come along. Very few prisoners from Chrisswell attend, although chaplains are made to feel welcome in Chrisswell during their rounds. The chaplains should be proactive in examining the reasons for the poor attendance at Sunday services, particularly from Darroch Hall.

Visiting Committee

8.30 The Visiting Committee representatives who met inspectors confirmed the view of previous inspections and of this one that overcrowding has a major impact on the prison. They felt that they could tell the difference in the atmosphere immediately in Ailsa when the numbers were very high; and that it was extremely demanding for prison staff to work in such an overcrowded hall. On the other hand, when numbers were less high they observed that staff had more time to deal with individual prisoners.

8.31 Their clear impression of the prison was "safe and purposeful". Members of the Committee visited the prison according to the requirements; and never reported concerns for their own safety. Moreover, they believed that safety generally was improving in the prison, and that incidents of serious violence were more rare. Prisoners did not complain to them about feeling unsafe. Indeed, prisoner complaints about anything to the Committee were infrequent.

8.32 They expressed regret about the ending of the Gardening Work Party. They believed that this was due to savings, and that it made the prison grounds look significantly less attractive.

8.33 The Visiting Committee was well supported by the prison; their only concerns about their own work were to do with an unequal sharing of responsibilities within the Committee. There was some discussion about forthcoming proposals of the Scottish Executive with regard to the functioning of Visiting Committees.


Estates and Facilities

9.1 The Estates and Facilities team has responsibility for all service events, planned and emergency maintenance of the buildings, the catering function and fire safety. The Estates Manager has a detailed service level agreement with the Governor covering all aspects of planned and reactive maintenance, including timescales.

9.2 Greenock has the task of maintaining premises that vary between new buildings such as Chrisswell House and Ailsa Hall which is now more than 100 years old. Throughout the inspection all communal areas and most buildings, corridors and offices were clean, tidy and well decorated. There were however a few exceptions. Most notably the cells in Ailsa were in need of redecoration despite this having been done as recently as 2003. A proposal to use prisoners trained in painting and decorating had been rejected, and the alternative is to contract this work. However it is done, the cells in Ailsa should be redecorated.

9.3 The toilet arrangements in Ailsa and Darroch were also poor with only a screen hiding the toilet, not a cubicle as is the case in most other prisons. The prison has undertaken the necessary work to identify the cost of putting cubicles in the cells in Darroch and Ailsa Halls.

9.4 A business case has been submitted for both of these projects but it has not been supported at this time.

9.5 A "Greening Greenock" project led by the Estates Manager is also well established. Leaflets are distributed throughout the prison giving clear and easy to understand advice on the part everyone can play in protecting the environment.

9.6 Estates also drive the fire safety agenda. The Fire Safety committee meets quarterly, chaired by the Estates Manager. After a recent inspection by HM Inspectorate of Fire Services some minor changes were made to procedures to increase evacuation simulations and improve fire safety equipment. A regular check of equipment and procedures is in place and is auditable.

Health and Safety

9.7 There is a good Health and Safety culture in Greenock. After a Health and Safety Executive Inspection in March 2005 an action plan to address recommendations was developed and recommendations acted on. A multi-disciplinary Health and Safety Committee meets bi-monthly. This meeting is chaired by the Governor and minutes show that it is well attended by all areas of the prison. Safe systems of work and area risk assessments are carried out by the Health and Safety co-ordinator and the POA(S) Health and Safety representative. The levels of training in Working Safely and Managing Safely are at appropriate levels.

9.8 The establishment recently introduced a new Smoking Policy. This is being reviewed again to make sure it is in line with new legislation proposed for March 2006.

Human Resources

9.9 Human Resources is a small department consisting of one HR Manager, one Administrative Assistant and one Training Manager who also acts as Health and Safety coordinator. The HR Manager also line manages the partnership liaison representative ( PLR). Partnership arrangements seem to work well.

9.10 Staff absence has been a particular problem in Greenock: in the recent past more than 20 staff have been absent at any one time. During inspection this was 16. The staffing complement in Greenock is resourced to cope with up to 12 staff being absent at a time. The recording system for monitoring absence is good. It is clear that timescales for absence monitoring meetings are met and that there is a robust audit trail linked to a daily management report. This report is a very useful tool describing all essential staff related issues. It is being adopted by other establishments and is an example of good practice.

9.11 Staff recruitment has also been a problem, particularly in the Health Centre. The recent arrival of two new nurses has helped. Although there is a commitment to acting up between grades from the operations group, the overall staff in post equates to the agreed staff complement.

9.12 Greenock has a well established staff rotation system in place. Staff and managers spoke positively of its impact on reducing the likelihood of 'burn out'. It works in such a way that staff do not work too long in one of the more demanding areas, while at the same time ensuring that not all of the experienced staff are moved on at one time.

9.13 Health promotion is also managed by the HR department. This can include activities and events for staff and prisoners. The Silver SHAW award was achieved in June 2005 and the prison is now working toward the Gold award.

9.14 Greenock has also established the practice of making bowls of fruit available around the prison, in the boardroom, training room and staff rest room.

Staff Training

9.15 Staff training is well organised. There is a built in "training day" on the staff roster. This identifies nine staff every Wednesday who can take part in training or cover for others to do so. The link between line management and the training manager is well established and it is clear that flexibility exists on both sides when necessary.

9.16 Training facilities are good. A spacious classroom doubles as the Control and Restraint training area. There is also a resource room with six computers and a small kitchen. Staff can also use the resource room to carry out other paperwork.

9.17 It is clear that there is a strong commitment to staff training in Greenock. The training manager is well supported by senior managers and his peers, and most staff take an active role in their own personal development.


9.18 Food in Greenock received a very positive response from prisoners in the most recent SPS Prisoner Survey. The statistics are worth recording. The percentage figure relates to the prisoners who said OK, good or very good:


SPS Average




Size of portions






The way food is served



9.19 The factors which led to these results were apparent and confirmed during the inspection:

  • Prisoners are served by catering staff
  • The kitchen/servery is adjacent to the dining room
  • Prisoners can eat their meals communally
  • Chips are prepared in the kitchen/servery immediately prior to serving
  • Food is served straight onto the prisoners plate - the prisoner controls portion size
  • Self-service is available in some areas
  • There is a menu choice for all, including remand prisoners
  • Managers sample the food regularly, including eating in the dining room with prisoners
  • Fruit is available in Chrisswell House and Darroch Hall every day

9.20 One issue identified during inspection was breakfast in Ailsa. Whereas prisoners in Darroch and Chrisswell have unlimited access to cereal, Ailsa prisoners received only a roll, a portion of jam and a portion of butter. Catering staff said that when cereal was given to Ailsa prisoners most of it was thrown out of cell windows. By not issuing cereal to prisoners in Ailsa catering staff said that resources could be realigned to improve other meals. Inspectors were told that Ailsa prisoners would be given cereal on an individual basis if they asked for it. A clear system should be identified to ensure cereal is issued to those prisoners in Ailsa who want it.

9.21 The menu choices available to prisoners cater for all religious, cultural and dietary needs. Whilst there is no formal complaints system staff said that any complaints were dealt with at source since it was catering staff who served the meals.

9.22 The kitchen itself is an old building, but it is clean, well organised and functional. A recent EHO inspection uncovered only minor problems which have subsequently been addressed. The kitchen is a popular work party for prisoners. Informal training is available and a competence record for each prisoner is held. A formal Food Hygiene qualification is available and more formal qualifications are planned when the staff achieve their A1 accreditation.

9.23 Staff and prisoners told inspectors that there was a direct effect on the quality of food when numbers in the prison increased. And it was not as simple as, for example, ten more prisoners meaning ten more portions: because staff from the kitchen serve the meals it takes longer to serve an additional ten prisoners and therefore there is less time for the preparation of meals meaning quality can suffer. In extreme circumstances catering staff said they can spend 50% of their shift serving and only 50% preparing. This is another "hidden" effect of overcrowding.


9.24 The laundry is well organised and efficient. Prisoners in all three halls put their clothes in individual bags which are taken to the laundry. The clothes are removed from the bags for washing and drying and then replaced in the bags (the clothes and bags are tagged to avoid any mistakes). A good tracking system of items and complaints is in place.

9.25 Twelve prisoners work in the laundry although none were undertaking a qualification at the time of inspection. Prisoners should be offered the opportunity to study for the Guild of Cleaners and Launderers qualification.


9.26 The canteen system in Greenock is excellent. Prisoners are regularly surveyed to give them the opportunity to influence what is available from the canteen. There is also a comments box on the canteen sheet for prisoners to make complaints or suggestions. The prisoner focus groups in each hall also regularly make suggestions to the canteen office staff. The canteen is managed by two administrative staff helped by two prisoners. The organisation of the store is impressive. The canteen timetable facilitates all prisoners being able to access the canteen at least twice a week. The canteen list is extensive and updated on a regular basis. In speaking to the staff in the canteen and the manager responsible for the area their comments were that "we try to make it easy for ourselves by listening to what the customers want". This approach works well. The canteen system in Greenock is an area of good practice.


10.1 The strategy for the management of sex offenders (paragraph 2.11).

10.2 Fruit and cereal are widely available in Chrisswell House and Darroch Hall (paragraphs 2.17, 2.23).

10.3 The involvement of the prisoner in the preparation for his tribunal (paragraph 5.25).

10.4 The arrangements for physical education, and the range of initiatives introduced (paragraphs 7.7 and 7.12).

10.5 The information, comments slip and internal mailbox in the visitors waiting room (paragraph 8.2).

10.6 The management report describing all essential staff issues (paragraph 9.10).

10.7 The canteen system (paragraph 9.26).


11.1 The toilets in all cells in Ailsa and Darroch Halls should be in cubicles (paragraphs 2.8, 2.21 and 9.3).

11.2 A comprehensive review of the management and meetings structure within Rehabilitation and Support should take place (paragraphs 5.17 and 5.23).

11.3 The practice of transferring some prisoners to Chrisswell House for very short periods of time should be reviewed (paragraph 5.22).

11.4 Serious offending behaviour needs of life sentence prisoners should be addressed at an appropriate point of the sentence (paragraph 5.26).

11.5 Healthcare arrangements should be reviewed (paragraph 6.24).

11.6 The accommodation for the social work team should be improved, and adequate space for sensitive social work interviews provided (paragraph 8.16).


12.1 All prisoners arriving in the prison should be located in the part of the hall set aside to deal with them (paragraph 2.6).

12.2 The telephones in Ailsa Hall should be fitted with canopies to reduce background noise and provide privacy (paragraph 2.7).

12.3 The cells in Ailsa Hall should be redecorated (paragraphs 2.9 and 9.2).

12.4 Prisoners in Ailsa Hall should be able to attend work and have a period of access to the open air (paragraph 2.10).

12.5 Consideration should be given to transferring young adult remand prisoners to a more appropriate location (paragraph 2.12).

12.6 The library arrangements should be reviewed (paragraphs 2.22 and 7.5).

12.7 SPS should ensure that a robust system of supervision is in place in Segregation Units which have no staff present (paragraph 2.27).

12.8 Beds should be fitted, and toilets screened, in the cells in the Segregation Unit (paragraph 2.28).

12.9 All prisoner complaints should be recorded on the SPS Prisoner Records System (paragraph 3.7).

12.10 A formal monitoring system of Orderly Room procedures should be set up (paragraph 3.9).

12.11 The night shift instructions should be updated (paragraph 3.11).

12.12 Prisoners in Ailsa Hall who are prescribed methadone should have enough time to collect their medication and have breakfast before going to work (paragraph 4.10).

12.13 The timing of routine inter-prison escorts should be examined (paragraph 5.8).

12.14 Community Integration Plans should be reviewed on a regular basis (paragraph 5.16).

12.15 A structured pre-release programme should be introduced (paragraph 5.16).

12.16 Prior to arrival in Chrisswell House, all prisoners should have a risk and needs assessment carried out by the sending establishment (paragraph 5.19).

12.17 The content of the post Special Escorted Leave Reports should be improved (paragraph 5.27).

12.18 Medical case notes should not block one of the corridors in the Health Centre (paragraph 6.1).

12.19 Emergency healthcare provision should be available in the halls (paragraph 6.4).

12.20 Nurses should stay in the room during a prisoner's consultation with the doctor only if there are good clinical or safety reasons for doing so (paragraph 6.6).

12.21 The lack of development in nurse-led clinics should be addressed and nurses should have appropriate training (paragraph 6.7).

12.22 The lack of audit/quality assurance in healthcare should be addressed (paragraph 6.7).

12.23 The Royal College of Nursing learning representative should be utilised more fully (paragraph 6.7).

12.24 The uncertainty about the number of hours which the doctor was spending in the prison should be cleared up (paragraph 6.9).

12.25 Medical cover should be provided when the doctors are on annual leave (paragraph 6.9).

12.26 The practice of sending prisoners direct to hospital without examination when the doctor is called 'out of hours' should be reviewed (paragraph 6.10).

12.27 Three-monthly reviews of medication prescriptions should be carried out (paragraph 6.10).

12.28 Chronic illness management should be formalised (paragraph 6.10).

12.29 Learning, Skills and Employability provision should develop a strategic vision to promote communication and collaboration (paragraphs 7.2 and 7.15).

12.30 The space for vocational workshops should be increased to allow more prisoner participation (paragraph 7.3).

12.31 A rigorous system of allocating and monitoring LSE activities to ensure good attendance at learning centre programmes should be introduced (paragraph 7.6).

12.32 The prison should continue to increase the range and breadth of accredited opportunities (paragraph 7.14).

12.33 The prison should develop ways of celebrating success and recognising achievement in LSE provision (paragraph 7.14).

12.34 A quality assurance system to ensure continuous improvement of teaching and the learning experience should be introduced (paragraph 7.17).

12.35 The prison should develop a system of noting and monitoring requests made to the Family Contact Development Officers by visitors and the action taken in response to such requests (paragraph 8.1).

12.36 The prison should continue to run the family awareness sessions and be proactive in advertising them (paragraph 8.4).

12.37 The Race Relations Monitoring Group should be reinvigorated and should meet on a regular basis (paragraph 8.24).

12.38 A system should be put in place which can quickly identify the number of ethnic minority and foreign national prisoners being held, and where they are being held in the prison (paragraph 8.25).

12.39 The chaplains should be proactive in examining the reasons for the poor attendance at Sunday services, particularly from Darroch Hall (paragraph 8.29).

12.40 A clear system should be identified to ensure cereal is issued to those prisoners in Ailsa Hall who want it (paragraph 9.20).

12.41 Prisoners working in the laundry should be offered the opportunity to study for the Guild of Cleaners and Launderers qualification (paragraph 9.25).


Written material and statistics received from the prison prior to Inspection

Prison's self-assessment

Governor's briefing

SPS Prisoner Survey

Prison Records

SPS background material

Discussions with prisoners

Discussions with prisoners' families

Focus groups with prisoners

Interviews with prisoners

Interviews with prison staff

Focus groups with staff


Andrew R C McLellan

HM Chief Inspector

Rod MacCowan

HM Deputy Chief Inspector

David McAllister

HM Assistant Chief Inspector of Prisons

David Abernethy


Alastair Delaney

Education Adviser

Lesley Brown

Education Adviser

Sean Doherty

Healthcare Adviser

Alna Robb

Healthcare Adviser

Willie Paxton

Social Work and Addictions Adviser