HM Inspectorate of Prisons: Report on HMP Peterhead

Prison - Full Inspection Report

Executive Summary

July 2006

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Note to the Scottish Ministers


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 Peterhead between 1-5 May 2006.

Nine recommendations and a number of other observations are made.

image of Andrew R C McLellan HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland signature

Andrew R C McLellan
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland

July 2006

1. Preamble

1.1 Peterhead is the last prison in Scotland where slopping out is the norm. The particular kind of slopping out in Peterhead is an arrangement based on chemical toilets, which are emptied twice a week, rather than chamber pots which were emptied every day (and still are in one hall in Polmont). The ending of slopping out in several prisons in the last two years has been welcomed in reports. Its continuation in Peterhead remains a disgrace. It is the worst single feature of prisons in Scotland.

1.2 The term "slopping out" disguises the reality. It refers to the process of getting rid of human waste, and produces an environment in which no one would want to live or work (comment on slopping out often forgets its implications for the working conditions of prison staff). But the true disgrace is in the periods of time between the opportunities for disposal: periods of time in which the human waste remains in the small cell in which, in the case of Peterhead, a prisoner is eating and sleeping. At weekends a prisoner can be locked in cell with his human waste for as much as 14 hours. A small number of prisoners in certain parts of the prison have access to proper sanitary arrangements. Ways must be found to make such opportunities possible for other prisoners.

1.3 Several prisons in Scotland hold prisoners convicted of sex offences. In almost every one, attention must be given to keeping these prisoners completely separate from other prisoners. "Mainstream" prisoners regularly subject them to threats and abuse whenever an opportunity arises. In Peterhead there are no "mainstream" prisoners; everyone is a sex offender. It is therefore a much safer environment for them than other prisons. Prisoners, who all come to Peterhead from other prisons, made many comments about feeling safe. The statistics confirm that there is little violence in Peterhead.

1.4 Sex offenders, the very people whose release into the community causes most anxiety to the public, are those who are worst prepared for that release. That was written in the inspection report of 2003 because of the limited number of prisoners who were taking part in the STOP programme, and because of the limited number of opportunities for sex offenders to be prepared for release in the community. Both of these very important matters are again cause for concern in this report.

1.5 The STOP programme is the principal tool used by the Scottish Prison Service to help long-term sex offenders address their offending behaviour. There is little evidence to help to answer the question "does it work?". So central is the programme to the role of imprisonment in reducing reoffending among sex offenders in Scotland that such evidence must be gathered soon.

1.6 The evidence which this report is able to provide is of a less significant nature, although still important. This report shows that the number of prisoners taking part in the STOP programme has increased significantly since the last full report, when the small number of prisoners taking part was a matter of real concern. It is clear that some effort has been put in to making the programme more available. If the programme does good, then it is very welcome that more people are participating in it.

1.7 The opportunities for preparation for release at Peterhead have also improved in terms of matters connected with release into the community. A small number of prisoners have taken part in a limited programme of supervised work in the community organised in partnership between the prison and Aberdeenshire Council. In its scale it is nothing like the community placements which other long-term prisoners may access in other prisons when a thorough safety assessment has been made: at Peterhead the prisoners are in the company of an officer at all times. But it is at least a beginning; and it is possible that from this beginning more useful schemes may develop. Sending sex offenders straight back into the community at the end of their sentences without any opportunity for being tested and learning in the community beforehand is not a good recipe for safety.

1.8 The report also notes that a limited scheme of supervised home leave has started for prisoners near the end of their sentences who have been assessed as low risk prisoners. For the same reasons as the supervised work activity scheme, this development also is likely to bring some reduction to the risks inherent in the release of long-term sex offenders; and will bring their preparation for release more into line with that of other long-term prisoners. However, there are difficulties in transferring prisoners nearing the end of their sentences to 'top ends' where they can access work placements in the community.

1.9 In 2005 a number of prisoners were transferred from Peterhead to Dumfries. These were prisoners who were not prepared to take part in the STOP programme. There have been two effects of this. One is in Peterhead, where staff and prisoners alike commented on the less confrontational atmosphere in the prison. The other is in Dumfries, where, as the recent inspection report there showed, the number of prisoner complaints has risen dramatically. For some time Peterhead has produced far more complaints from prisoners than any other prison; now Dumfries has joined it. The figures are remarkable. In 2004-05 of all prisoner complaints received by the Scottish Prison Complaints Commission, 30% came from Peterhead. In 2005-06, 59% of complaints submitted to SPCC came from Dumfries (37%) and Peterhead (22%) together.

1.10 This report and the most recent report on Dumfries provide evidence that the treatment and conditions of prisoners in these two prisons are not worse than in other prisons. It is no more difficult to lodge a complaint in one prison than in another. A possible interpretation of the very large number of complaints in Peterhead prison is that it is a mischievous attempt to frustrate the normal working of the prison. The trivial nature of many of the complaints suggests that is true. If it is true, then this persistent use of the complaints procedure damages other prisoners in two ways. It consumes much staff time, which will lead to less staff time being available for normal prisoner contact, and may lead to prisoners being locked up. And it is likely to inhibit other prisoners from raising genuine complaints, for fear of being associated with the persistent complainers. The prison complaints system is a very important part of the protection of the rights of prisoners and it must be defended. So when it is abused it is a serious matter. A way of restricting persistent and trivial complaints, without inhibiting the right of prisoners to make complaints should be found.

1.11 Among the matters which are of most concern to prisoners in terms of their conditions and treatment, this report makes positive comment in four areas. The food consistently receives high marks in the SPS Prisoner Survey; it is served hot, the portions are quite adequate and the menu is varied - although it does not contain enough fruit and vegetables and prisoners have little option but to eat in their cells.

1.12 The arrangements for visits are very good within the limitations imposed. That is, those prisoners who receive visits have access to frequent visits (this is because many sex offenders receive no visits, or only very few), and the atmosphere in the visit room is good. But the waiting arrangements for visitors are very poor. They were very poor at the time of the last report, and they have not changed.

1.13 The use of drugs in Peterhead is very limited. This is a significant factor in the absence of violence and in the relaxed atmosphere in the visit room.

1.14 Relationships between staff and prisoners are good.

1.15 The inspection report of 2004 said The uncertainly over the future of the prison is also as great as ever. It is not simply that managers and staff and prisoners are no more clear now than they were one year ago about what will happen: it is also that the uncertainty itself has had one more year to have its effect. Now the demoralising effect of uncertainty has had another year to work. A consultation period about the future of Peterhead came to an end in November 2005: there has been no announcement. But even when a decision is made, slopping out, unless something is done now, will continue for a long time.

2. Population, Accommodation and Routines


2.1 The prison has a maximum single cell capacity of 306 and on the first day of inspection there were 299 prisoners unlocked. Almost all of these prisoners are convicted of sex offences and sentenced to more than four years. There were two prisoners under the age of 21 and two prisoners on recall from licence. All prisoners come to Peterhead from another prison.

Accommodation and Routines

2.2 There have been two significant changes to the accommodation since the last full inspection. Prisoners now no longer share cells; and all cells have been fitted with electrical power. Whilst these changes are important it does not hide the fact that prisoners in Peterhead are living in the worst conditions in any prison in Scotland.

2.3 Many of the cells are very small and there is no access to sanitation in five of the seven residential units. In these cells prisoners use a chemical toilet which is emptied twice a week. Prisoners spend many hours every day in their cell, which consequently acts as an all in one living room, dining room, bedroom and toilet.

2.4 Peterhead has seven residential units, detailed below.

'B' Annexe, 'A' Hall, 'B' Hall, 'C' Hall and 'D' Hall

2.5 Facilities are broadly the same in 'B' Annexe, 'A' Hall, 'B' Hall, 'C' Hall and 'D' Hall. The buildings are old, but the standard of cleanliness in the communal areas is very good.

2.6 'B' Annexe holds admissions and is now often referred to as the Induction Unit. It has 21 cells and there were 21 prisoners living there on the first day of inspection. 'B' Annexe is adjacent to 'B' Hall, separated by a door that remains open most of the time. Prisoners remain in 'B' Annexe during their induction and thereafter until a cell becomes available in one of the other halls, or until any special needs have been met.

2.7 'B' Hall has 58 cells and there were 58 prisoners living there on the first day of inspection. 'A' Hall and 'D' Hall were at one time a single larger residential area. A partition was built to create the two smaller units. 'A' Hall has 66 cells and 65 prisoners were living there on the first day of inspection. 'D' Hall has 61 cells and 57 prisoners were living there.

2.8 It is worth noting that although there appeared to be space for seven more prisoners this was not the case. Some prisoners had been transferred to other prisons nearer their home area for a short period of times to facilitate visits from their family. Because most of the prisoners in Peterhead are not from the north east this is a constant feature of the prison. Other prisoners can be located in other establishments because of appearances in the Appeal Court, and some may be resident in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

2.9 There are showers on each floor in each hall. There are no temperature controls in the showers and some prisoners complained that certain showers were too hot. This should be monitored by staff and remedial action taken when necessary.

2.10 Prisoners have a chemical toilet in their cell. There are two set times of the week for these to be emptied, but staff and prisoners said that if any prisoner needed to empty his toilet at another time this would be allowed.

2.11 There are ablutions areas on each floor with a sufficient number of toilet cubicles. The doors on the cubicles are very small and offer very little privacy. The doors on the toilets should be made larger. Some prisoners said that it was possible to live without using the chemical toilet. It was apparent that many prisoners tried to do this because when the slopping out process was taking place during the inspection only a few prisoners needed to empty their toilet.

2.12 Recreation takes place within the halls. There is pool, snooker, darts and board games. There is a large screen television in each hall for communal use. There is no access to satellite or cable television. 'C' Hall has recreation rooms adjacent to the main concourse. The other halls have recreation equipment on the floor of the hall. Prisoners from all halls exercise in one large exercise yard located between 'B' Hall and 'C' Hall.

2.13 There is an adequate number of telephones in each hall. Most are in a telephone box or have canopies to provide some privacy. One telephone in 'C' Hall was not covered in any way and this should be addressed.

2.14 Prisoners collect their meals from a servery within each hall and usually eat in their cells. The one exception to this is a small communal dining area in 'C' Hall, although only a few prisoners use it.

2.15 The main feature in the halls is the lack of integral sanitation. The cells have no toilet and no sink. There is no access to running water in the cells. Prisoners have a flask, a kettle and a basin. They are also limited in the amount of water they can have and if they use it to wash they have no way of getting rid of the dirty water during periods of lock up. Prisoners use the two litre plastic bottles they buy soft drinks in from the canteen to keep water, but some staff remove these bottles from cells because they suspect they are used to make hooch. Prisoners do not receive hand wipes so they need water to maintain a reasonable level of personal hygiene. The chemicals needed to maintain levels of cleanliness in cells were not always available. These are kept in hall ablutions areas. Many were empty. Prisoners should be able to acquire the equipment and materials they need to keep their cells clean.

2.16 The cells in these halls do not comply with SPS own cell certification standard. They are not fit for purpose.

'E' Hall

2.17 Peterhead has created an internal progression system since the last inspection. 'E' Hall is the first enhanced stage of that process. There are 15 cells in 'E' Hall, which at one time was the Segregation Unit. There were 15 prisoners living there on the first day of inspection.

2.18 The cells in 'E' Hall are larger than the other halls. They are spacious and the regime befits the enhanced status of the prisoners who live there.

2.19 The hall has a soft seating area and small kitchen. There is also a small yard and garden. These areas are not accessible to prisoners except at specified times. Prisoners can exercise in the main yard with the rest of the prison.

2.20 Prisoners in 'E' Hall have a key to their own door so they can leave their cell during lock up periods to use the toilet, have a shower or sit with another prisoner.

2.21 There is one telephone located on the ground floor in a telephone box. For no obvious reason it is switched off during patrol periods. The prison should allow prisoners to use the telephone during patrol periods.

2.22 The creation of an enhanced regime in 'E' Hall means that 15 fewer prisoners in Peterhead have to slop out.

The Peterhead Unit

2.23 The Peterhead Unit is the local 'top end'. It has ten cells and ten prisoners were living there on the first day of inspection. The Unit is the newest accommodation in Peterhead. It is the only accommodation with a toilet and a sink in each cell. The toilets are unscreened.

2.24 Prisoners have a key to their own door and can associate during patrol periods. They can also access the communal toilets and showers. Prisoners had free-view television boxes in their cells at the time of inspection.

2.25 Meals are served from a servery and prisoners can eat in a communal dining area. The dining room is well used. There is a washing machine and tumble dryer in the ablutions area so prisoners can do their own laundry.

2.26 Recreation facilities are located in an area adjacent to the cells. There is pool, darts and some exercise equipment. There is also a large screen television and a small kitchen. Prisoners cannot access this area during lock up periods. There is a telephone in a quiet corner in a lounge area. It is only accessible during periods of unlock. As there is no staff presence in the Unit during patrol periods there is an internal telephone in the cells area in case a prisoner has to contact staff in an emergency.

2.27 There is a very pleasant garden area around the Unit and prisoners can walk in the open air during periods of unlock. They can also go to the main exercise yard to meet with prisoners from the other halls. The standard of accommodation in the Unit is excellent and the use of the Unit as a local top end is an excellent addition to the accommodation.

3. Custody and Good Order

Security and Safety

3.1 In 2004-05 there were no serious prisoner-on-prisoner assaults. In 2005-06 there were two. There were five minor prisoner-on-prisoner assaults in 2004-05 and ten in 2005-06. There had been one serious prisoner-on-staff assault in 2004-05 and none in 2005-06. There were three minor prisoner-on-staff assaults in 2004-05 and three in 2005-06.

3.2 In 2004-05 there were two deaths in custody (subject to FAI). In 2005-06 there were three and in 2006-07 to time of inspection there were two. In 2004-05 there were two attempted suicides. In 2005-06 there were none and in 2006-07 to time of inspection there were none. In 2004-05 ACT procedures were initiated on 13 occasions. In 2005-06 they were initiated on 14 occasions and on two occasions in 2006-07 to time of inspection.

3.3 None of the deaths in custody were attributed to suicide.

3.4 Overall, Peterhead is a safe prison with prisoners confirming that they felt safer there than they would in any other prison.

Custody and Order

3.5 The Unit Manager Operations and Business Improvement oversees the gate, visits, CCTV, physical security and intelligence management, as well as auditing the establishment's performance against the Contract with SPSHQ.

3.6 The prison is safe and secure, even though the buildings are old. Investment has been limited in the last 10 years, and while the future of the prison remains in doubt that is likely to remain the case.

3.7 Peterhead has benefited recently from improving its intelligence management system with the addition of an on-site police liaison officer. Because the prison holds sex offenders, the nature of the work undertaken by the Intelligence Unit differs from other establishments. Amongst other things, it has a crucial role in linking community intelligence with prison intelligence when a prisoner approaches liberation.

3.8 The Unit Manager Operations and Business Improvement uses the monthly management meeting to update other managers on issues. It is at this meeting that feedback is given on the prison's performance against the Contract with SPSHQ.

3.9 There is a very strong focus on audit in the prison. All managers are required to submit a self-audit of their areas of compliance each month and 10% of the compliance management system is independently checked. The access database used to connect all managers to the audit system is impressive.

3.10 Business Improvement and Custody & Order are well managed.

Prisoner Complaints Procedure

3.11 For the last three years Peterhead has had a far larger number of complaints from prisoners than any other prison in Scotland. This year it has been joined by Dumfries, following the transfer of a number of prisoners from Peterhead to Dumfries. More prisoner complaints were lodged in Dumfries and Peterhead than in all other Scottish prisons put together. In 2004-05 of all prisoner complaints received by the Scottish Prison Complaints Commission, 30% came from Peterhead. In 2005-06, 59% of all complaints submitted to SPCC came from Dumfries (37%) and Peterhead (22%) together.

3.12 An examination of a sample of the complaints made by Peterhead prisoners reveals that few are related to slopping-out, the one circumstance in which conditions in Peterhead are markedly worse than in other prisons. Indeed, of the sample seen, many are of a trivial nature; and nearly all are made by a very small number of prisoners. It is reasonable to conclude that the large number of complaints in Peterhead is not necessarily an indication that conditions and treatment are much worse than in other prisons.

3.13 Another explanation might be that it is much more difficult to make complaints in other prisons than it is in Peterhead and in Dumfries. However, there is little evidence that forms are difficult to find in other prisons; and there is little evidence from prisoners that they have been discouraged from making complaints. There is a culture of complaining in Peterhead and in Dumfries which is not found in any other prison.

3.14 Examination of the records in Peterhead shows that complaints are dealt with timeously and properly. However, there is a high price to be paid for that. The price is in the very considerable time taken up by prison staff responding to complaints: time which is not being spent in other ways. This inevitably means that the large majority of prisoners are disadvantaged. Moreover there is anecdotal evidence that some prisoners in Peterhead will not make use of the complaints system because they do not want to be associated with the persistent complainers.

3.15 The opportunity for prisoners to make complaints and have them investigated is extremely important. But prisoners are not helped when the opportunity is abused. It is recommended that a way of restricting persistent and trivial complaints, without inhibiting the right of prisoners to make complains is found.

Prisoner Disciplinary System

3.16 Peterhead generally has few breaches of discipline: an average of eight reports per month in 2005-06, ranging from a monthly low of four to a high of 21. In 10 out of the 12 months the number of reports was in single figures.

3.17 The disciplinary system is managed by the Intelligence Unit. A sample of paperwork was examined and was appropriately completed. Adjudications are held in a room adjacent to 'E' Hall. An adjudication observed was carried out in accordance with SPS guidelines. Ample information was given to the prisoner and explanations and clarifications given. The adjudications are carried out by all members of the management team, with the duty governor being responsible. Prisoners raised no issues regarding the adjudication system.

Night Duty

3.18 One manager and seven staff comprise the night shift. Night Duty Instructions were found to be up to date and user friendly. Staff clearly understood the importance of their role in terms of the security of the prison and the safety of the prisoners.

3.19 All operations officers cover the night shift. The size of the Operations Group means an Officer is on night duty every six weeks. When asked about emergency procedures all Officers were competent and confident. This confidence is helped by the fact that the Night Duty Manager is on constant night shift cover.

3.20 The call-in system for the doctor is good during night duty. The on-call doctor will give advice over the telephone and when required will attend the prison. In an emergency an ambulance will be called. When a prisoner is taken to hospital during the night staffing is reduced. As a result of the higher average age of the prisoners in Peterhead this occurs more regularly than in most other prisons. However, no concerns were raised in relation to night duty.

4. Addictions

4.1 There is less overt evidence of drug misuse in Peterhead than in other prisons. Managers acknowledged that this has resulted in an unhelpfully complacent attitude to this aspect of prisoner care. The prison is not included in the SPS Contract with Phoenix House.

4.2 Addictions Prevalence Tests during 2005-06 returned negative results of 97%. The positive tests were primarily for use of cannabis or amphetamines. Managers anticipate that this may change as an increasing number of young people are transferred to the prison but recognised that staff are not as prepared as they should be for this changing pattern. There has been no substance misuse training for some time.

4.3 Currently, the use of illegal alcohol is more of an issue although it is not a significant problem and rarely results in the unruly behaviour that might be seen elsewhere in the estate.

4.4 Managers and staff are satisfied that substance misuse is not affecting the smooth running of the establishment. While the prison stated that it used risk needs information, it was not clear that it was adequately addressing the needs of prisoners who may relapse when they return to the community.

4.5 The prison has not delivered a drugs awareness programme for prisoners for some years. There are currently 18 prisoners on a waiting list for this programme, some for a considerable period of time (one prisoner has waited over three years). Inspectors were told that a group is planned but no date has been set.

4.6 There is an even more substantial list for the prison's 'Sensible Drinking Programme'. Currently 34 prisoners await a place (one prisoner has waited over a year).

4.7 It is also debatable whether the length and content of these programmes is appropriate. They provide only basic awareness and education on substance misuse issues over 10 sessions. For those prisoners with chronic alcohol or drug problems prior to custody this is unlikely to be sufficient. Prisoners spoken to commented that the programmes only 'touch the surface'. One prisoner suggested that this was underlined by the title 'Sensible Drinking' which he saw as a particularly unhelpful suggestion for those prisoners who could never safely drink again.

4.8 Managers reported that the prison did not have the capacity to run new programmes or to run the existing programmes more often. The prison will soon have access to one day per week of the time of the addiction nurse at Aberdeen prison. At present the only external provider is Alcoholics Anonymous. Prisoners spoken to said that this organisation provided valuable support for many but did not meet the needs of others (as is the case in the community).

5. Prisoner Management


5.1 The reception area has a holding room with two adjacent cubicles which are used only for searching and for changing. There is no routine use of cubicles. There is a store for prisoners clothing and property. This is clean and well organised. Notices in various languages are on display and Peterhead has access to the national telephone interpreter service. There is a shower area which is shared with the gymnasium. This area is bleak and there was a serious drainage problem with an attendant powerful smell. The drainage in the shower area should be repaired.

5.2 There is not a high level of movement through the Reception. Peterhead only accepts admissions from other prisons. In theory, all movements should be planned, however considerable frustration was expressed by both reception and other staff and managers over the service provided by the escort provider. Evidence was presented which showed that escorts are regularly late or do not arrive. Although the prison has no reception staff in the evening, planned routine transfers from other prisons arrive in the evening, requiring staff to be deployed from other duties and potentially curtailing prisoner activities. Of concern was the evidence that on a fairly regular basis hospital escorts are late or cancelled due to escorting staff not arriving or arriving too late for clinics which have fixed hours. SPS should ensure that the escort contractor carries out planned escorts regularly, on time, and at a time that meets the needs of the rest of the prison.


5.3 Induction is well managed and documented. The process has been improved by the creation of a dedicated Induction Unit in 'B' Annexe, and the introduction of a local version of the SPS National Programme. The Induction Unit has 21 cells. There are two dedicated induction officers based in the Induction Unit.

5.4 Induction starts before the prisoner arrives at Peterhead. An induction officer conducts a 'Pre Admission Interview' in the holding prison. This interview assesses the prisoner's suitability for Peterhead.

5.5 Following the reception process in Peterhead the prisoner is located in the Induction Unit. An initial interview usually takes place within 24 hours depending on the time of arrival at the prison. The 13 Modules contained in the induction pack are comprehensive and clear and the Unit aims to complete these modules within two weeks. It is not always possible for external agencies to make their contributions within that time, although effort is made to contact them on the day of arrival. A sample of folders was examined and all of these were up to date and completed to a good standard. Inspectors spoke to a small group of prisoners in the Unit, all of whom said that the induction process had helped them settle in.

5.6 After the modules have been completed, prisoners should be allocated a job which offers a meaningful experience. The lack of workplaces in the prison generally means that this does not always happen. Some prisoners are not offered work for lengthy periods of time and they have little to do except sit around the Induction Unit.

5.7 Some prisoners can remain in the Induction Unit for up to six months depending on their needs and vulnerability. Others move into the mainstream fairly quickly.

Sentence Management

5.8 Sentence Management is the responsibility of a First Line Manager, and is co-ordinated by a Sentence Management Officer who is also responsible for co-ordinating a range of casework (including Parole, Complaints and Case Reviews). Thirty one staff are trained in the SPS Risk and Needs Assessment system, and while officers are tasked with a small number of target completions to maintain their competency, the bulk of Sentence management work falls to officers who work on a part day-shift basis after covering hall posts.

5.9 On admission, prisoners are located in 'B' Annexe where induction is carried out. As part of this, they have their details logged by the Sentence Management staff and are assigned a personal officer. A useful locally designed programme automatically signals target dates and re-assigns personal officers as prisoners move within the prison. The Co-ordinator assigns individual cases each month and the First Line Manager monitors completions. The risk assessments lead to referrals to programmes and to service providers. The action plans are agreed by the prisoner and his personal officer. The exceptions are referrals to the Risk Management Group ( RMG) and to the Psychology Unit, where two people (normally the personal officer and hall manager) must make a referral.

5.10 The RMG is a multi-disciplinary group, chaired by the Deputy Governor. It convenes, as required, to address any adverse developments such as inappropriate or aggressive behaviour, self-harm, downgrades, or recalls from licence.

5.11 With a few exceptions, Peterhead has a well-organised Sentence Management system and meets its monthly targets. An examination of a sample of case folders indicated that the entries were appropriate.


5.12 There appears to be little in the way of formal links between Sentence Management and either Social Work or Psychology within the prison. The Sentence Management staff had no experience of contact with a prisoner's assigned local authority criminal justice social worker. The establishment of a system to allow joint management of casework should be examined.

5.13 Despite the lack of formal links, the prison will, in common with other prisons, be required to implement Integrated Case Management (the prison and community joint working practice for prisoner management). The target date for this had been 1st April but this was changed. Peterhead now has a (still very ambitious) target of 1st June for moving to Integrated Case Management, as mentioned elsewhere in this report.


5.14 Pre-release arrangements consist of a one-week programme which runs three times a year. To ensure sufficient participants, the officer managing pre-release will make contact with the next 15 prisoners due for release and invite them to participate. Not all prisoners take this up. A frustration within the system is the particular arrangement for managing prisoners who are due to complete their sentences at Peterhead. Most are transferred to prisons near their address on liberation for release. In 2005-06, 58 prisoners were due to be liberated from Peterhead. Of these, 47 were transferred to prisons in the Central Belt just prior to liberation. These prisoners may have been scheduled to attend a pre-release programme; however this was not always taken into account before they were transferred.

5.15 Although prisoners are transferred nearer to their address prior to release to help manage their transition back to the community, it is likely that when they arrive at their local prison, they will be placed on protection. It is unlikely that they will have any structured pre-release programme at the local prison. Many of these prisoners will pose a high risk, and will also have high needs. It is recommended that all prisoners due for liberation from Peterhead have access to appropriate pre-release programmes.

5.16 The pre-release programme is arranged by two officers. They in turn are dependent on other agencies supporting the programme. There was clear frustration that this support was not guaranteed and that other priorities often meant that those who were due to deliver elements of the programme cancelled at short notice. As a result, the course has a range of elements, which may or may not be delivered. The organisers are clearly used to changing the content at very short notice.

5.17 Previously, the course lasted two weeks, with APEX workers from HMP Edinburgh delivering employability and job preparation modules. This was discontinued when the Contract with APEX was terminated. Elements such as alcohol and drug awareness, budgeting, the benefits system (delivered by Jocentreplus), and housing referrals to Shelter are included. Coping and addiction relapse sessions are included, as is awareness of complying with licences. The organisers identified an extreme antipathy among most participants towards supervision on release and towards criminal justice social workers who will be responsible for such supervision. As highlighted elsewhere in this report there is little evidence of criminal justice social workers engaging with clients during their sentences.

5.18 On a more positive note, pre-release officers commented on good relationships with the prison social work department. A pre-release case conference is held with each prisoner approximately one month prior to release. Due to the problems highlighted above, there may be nothing else done beyond this.

5.19 Overall, pre-release arrangements at Peterhead give considerable cause for concern. The officers responsible appear committed but unsupported. There is little evidence of a management structure within which pre-release operates. The courses offered are ad hoc because some of the individuals and agencies involved do not appear to consider them a priority. The content of the courses does not appear to be the result of a structured assessment of needs. There is no evidence of where pre-release fits into a strategy for managing individuals. There are clear opportunities for service deliverers within the prison to provide relevant elements of pre-release. It is recommended that pre-release arrangements suitable to the assessed needs of prisoners at Peterhead are developed and implemented.

Supervised Work Activities in the Community

5.20 Work in the community is allowed only after thorough risk assessment. At the time of inspection six prisoners had been involved. Until now it has always been supervised project work, and there is no contact with the public. There have been no incidents reported and prisoners who have taken part feel that it is extremely worthwhile. No public concern has been reported.

5.21 Twelve prisoners were participating in the Special Escorted Leave Scheme at the time of inspection. Prisoners were very positive about their experience.

5.22 These are both limited schemes. However they are one small step in the direction of providing proper preparation for release of prisoners in Peterhead; and as a result may be the beginning of a contribution to public safety.

Life Sentence Prisoners

5.23 There is one Lifer Liaison Officer ( LLO) in post and this area of work is almost full-time. There were 64 life sentence prisoners being held at the time of inspection. Work includes compiling Parole Reports, LLO reports, Extended Sentence Reports and preparing for Tribunals.

5.24 The two key issues facing life sentence prisoners, and the establishment, are progression from Peterhead and the requirement to participate in and complete the STOP programme. The only movement available to lifers at present is the 'top end' at HMP Edinburgh where work placements in the community are available, although some have gone to Chrisswell House in HMP Greenock in the past. All needs have to be met before this can take place, and there are limited places available in HMP Edinburgh. There is therefore some siltage in Peterhead. The second issue raised during the inspection was that prisoners sometimes felt "coerced" into doing the STOP programme, believing that they would not otherwise be granted parole. This was leading to resentment and a feeling that the programme was being devalued, as some prisoners were only 'going through the motions'. Moreover, there is a significant waiting list for the STOP programme.

6. Healthcare

Physical Environment

6.1 The heath centre in Peterhead is located next to "C" hall and is within easy walking distance of all residential halls.

6.2 There are two consulting rooms, a large room for group work/ meetings, a dental surgery, and a clinical treatment room. The health centre does not meet modern design standards, however it is spacious and clean. There is a disabled access shower facility within the centre, and a bath in the Induction Unit: there are no aids for disabled prisoners in the bath.

Access to Healthcare

6.3 Prisoners wishing to see the doctor complete a form requesting an appointment. They are then triaged by nursing staff who go to the residential areas each morning for this purpose.

6.4 On average, there are fifteen self referral forms submitted each day. Six of these referrals are usually for a visiting specialist, six for medication requests and three to see a nurse. The prisoner is normally seen by the nurse within 48 hours. There are no consulting rooms in the residential areas. Prisoners are brought to the Health centre for consultations.

6.5 There are currently 166 prisoners receiving a monthly prescription; nine prisoners receiving a weekly prescription and seven prisoners receiving their medication on a supervised basis.

Medical Services

6.6 Most prisoners see the doctor for urgent referrals at the next available date. Medical cover is provided three days a week from a local GP practice. On average the doctor sees ten to fifteen prisoners per clinic. The GP out of hours service for Grampian has been utilised 20 times in the last six months. This has included telephone support and twelve visits to the prison or transfers to hospital.

Nursing Services

6.7 There should be five full time equivalent nursing staff, with a health centre manager, and a full time administrator in post. However the centre has not been running with a full staffing complement for a significant period of time.

6.8 Due to the absence of the health centre manager, day-to-day management and monitoring of the health centre has been lacking. This means that the quality of clinical provision is wholly dependent on each individual being professional in their clinical practice. Long-term staffing issues (over the past 18 months), have had a severe impact on the working relationships amongst nursing staff. Relationships were reported as being poor with staff grievances being actioned. Agency staff and staff from other prisons have been drafted in due to the staff shortages. Arrangements have also been put in place for nursing staff to have telephone access to Inverness and Aberdeen prisons for advice when required.

6.9 At present staff can only provide core nursing duties on an 08.00-17.00 hrs cover. They are not able to provide backshift cover and halls do not always have prison officer cover with a first aid certificate. No nurse led clinics were being run at the time of inspection. 'Well men' clinics are run twice a year and are popular with the prisoners.

6.10 It is recommended that the staffing issues within the health centre are resolved as a matter of urgency.

Mental Health Services

6.11 Medical provision for mental health services is provided by three forensic psychiatrists based at Royal Cornhill Hospital ( RCH) in Aberdeen. Contractual issues last year led to the withdrawal of the service from RCH. It was agreed to cut the sessions from five to three per week. This led to a complete withdrawal of medical mental health input from April to September 2005. At that time mental health was covered by the GP and the mental health nurse.

6.12 There was no mental health nurse in post at the time of the inspection, although this was being addressed. A psychologist provides input to the mental health service, focusing on cognitive behavioural therapy and a counselling model (see paragraphs 8.22 and 8.24).

6.13 Referrals to the mental health service would normally be screened by the mental health nurse in the first instance and taken to the fortnightly multidisciplinary meeting. This is not happening and the psychologist is currently screening referrals in the first instance. The way in which referrals to the mental health service are screened should be reviewed.

6.14 Efforts to establish a day care type facility to encourage individuals with mental health problems to increase their social interaction have not been successful, despite a need being identified. Ways of providing a day care type facility for prisoners with mental health issues should be examined.

Suicide Prevention

6.15 In the year prior to the inspection there had been no suicides at the prison. Incidences of self-harm are low. At the time of inspection one prisoner was subject to ACT procedures. A full description of self harm statistics is provided at paragraphs 3.2 and 3.3

6.16 The ACT to care model is well established in the prison with a proactive ACT co-ordinator in place. ACT is high on senior management's agenda and all staff in the prison attend a session on ACT once a year. Training on ACT is well monitored. Hall Managers take responsibility for ensuring that ACT case conferences take place.

Dental Services

6.17 The dentist is currently employed one day per week. He sees approximately twelve prisoners each week. The waiting time for this clinic is approximately three months for a check up. If a prisoner is suffering from toothache he is seen at the next clinic. An out of hours service is available. The dental equipment is adequate.


6.18 The Pharmacy is organised through the contract with Alliance. Alliance visits the prison once a week to provide advice on the storage, administration and handling of drugs; maintain the emergency equipment; and review the pharmacy financial reports. The arrangements appear to work very well.


6.19 A local optician visits the health centre for one clinic per month. He sees approximately fourteen prisoners in each clinic. The waiting time for an appointment is approximately one month.


6.20 A podiatrist attends the prison three times per month and sees approximately eight prisoners in each clinic. The waiting time for the podiatrist is approximately three weeks.


6.21 The physiotherapist attends the prison twice per month, and sees five prisoners on average. Waiting time for this clinic is approximately seven weeks.

Aids and Adaptations

6.22 The prison did not have sufficient aids and adaptations to cope with the more elderly prisoner population. For example, there was only one wheelchair in each hall, and one prisoner said that he hadn't been able to go outside the previous day because 'someone else had the wheelchair'. Other prisoners spoken to did not seem aware whether mobile hoists or other simple aids to help in dressing were available. The prison should ensure that it has sufficient aids and adaptations to meet the needs of the prisoner population.

7. Learning, Skills and Employability


7.1 All aspects of learning, skills and employability ( LSE) come under the responsibility of the Unit Manager Prisoner Activities. A full time manager is employed by Motherwell College to organise the activities in the learning centre and to provide learning support to the Vocational Training ( VT) workshops. The SPS contract for the provision of LSE in Peterhead 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. The learning centre employs six appropriately qualified and experienced teaching staff who are highly committed to the needs of learners. Two prison officers/instructors manage the workshops where VT in horticulture and joinery take place. They are well qualified and manage the learning in the vocational workshops extremely well.

7.3 The learning centre offers a good level of accommodation to support learning activities. It is well located and contains three teaching rooms, a library, IT facilities and an office of an adequate standard. However, the temperature of these rooms cannot be controlled sufficiently to always ensure a pleasant learning environment. The VT workshops are located to the rear of the prison but are very well resourced with polytunnels and greenhouses available for horticulture courses and a large well-organised joinery workshop for carpentry courses. The large amount of space available offers very good opportunities for working outdoors. The laundry and the textile workshops would be suitable for delivering vocational courses if they had access to a classroom environment. Both workshops are well equipped and maintain industry standard health and safety practices. However extending the vocational programme into these areas would also require additional staff training.

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 appropriate number of up to date PCs. However, in line with SPS policy, prisoners do not have access to the internet.

7.5 A library is situated in the learning centre and contains a good range of general fiction and special interest books. An organised lending system ensures records are maintained about who is taking books and which books they are taking. However, analysis of these records shows that they would benefit from being computerised. Books are donated by prisoners and the library has a section maintained by the mobile library service of Aberdeenshire Council. Prisoners make good use of the ordering system provided for specific titles. Commendably, the library also has a reference area containing learning resources for both staff and prisoners to use. Staff are developing the library to include DVD hire, and prisoners have access to a small range of audio books. Prisoners have good access to the library facility every week. Usage of the library had diminished in recent months, but staff have plans to reinvigorate its role and purpose.

7.6 Prisoners were very positive about their relationships with the staff and were very happy with the quality of the education they received. Staff were well prepared and had adequate resources for delivery of the courses. The VT workshops in particular are well resourced and provide a realistic working environment.

Access to Learning, Skills and Employability

7.7 All prisoners are introduced to LSE opportunities during induction. Learning centre staff consistently promote opportunities for learning through posters and information leaflets distributed in the halls. Staff also hold a useful welcome session for new learners. Most classes were fully subscribed, with some having a small waiting list. Each week there are twenty five class sessions with 214 learners enrolled on courses, amounting to over 40% of the prisoner population. High attendance rates of almost 90% help ensure high levels of retention on the courses.

7.8 Almost all learners were enthusiastic about the learning opportunities provided and were committed to their studies. They understood the learning centre and VT worksheds had limited capacity for courses and a few did want more access to the learning centre. They recognised the need to develop appropriate employability skills and complained of the limited opportunities for VT in the workshops. In particular learners with shorter sentences, or those coming to the end of their sentences, had limited opportunities to access VT workshops.

7.9 More than a few learners would like to see more courses offered which deal with enterprise skills and being self-employed. This was not a sufficient focus or priority for LSE provision. The learning centre has plans to offer a City and Guilds Basic Bricklaying Course but these are at an early stage of development.

7.10 Overall, the absence of a strategic plan for the provision of LSE has resulted in a curriculum that does not fully reflect the importance of developing appropriate employability skills for the majority of learners.

Assessment of Need

7.11 All prisoners attending induction complete an 'Alerting Tool' intended to highlight significant need in literacy and numeracy, and prepare Individual Learning Plans or Learning Logs as appropriate. There is a high conversion rate from recognising needs through this process into accessing courses in the learning centre. However the profile of learners in Peterhead Prison is such that many already have adequate literacy and numeracy skills on entering the prison and require a broader range of courses which provide more advanced vocational or employability skills. The SPSLSE contract was felt by staff to be too inflexible to fully meet this need.

7.12 Twenty learners had enrolled on Open Learning programmes and the learning centre manager organises adequate access to the learning centre for this group of learners.

Delivery of Learning

7.13 All staff engage 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. They use a range of approaches to maintain interest and to match the needs of the group, including student led sessions, direct teaching, role play, practical work, self study and simulation. They cope extremely well with groups working at different levels and at different stages of progress, maintaining enthusiasm and commitment amongst learners. Staff build purposeful relationships quickly with prisoners which improve retention and achievement.

Prisoners' Learning Experiences

7.14 Overall prisoners were very satisfied with the relevance of their learning and the support from tutors. Learners based within the learning centre were very positive about their learning experiences. Classrooms contain good displays of learners' work, creating a positive learning environment. Learners attend the VT courses in horticulture and carpentry each day with very good support from two prison officer instructors available at all times. Learners here were also very positive about their learning experiences and this was reflected in the high achievement rates. However, learners who were about to complete their courses had not discussed progression and were unclear as to what further opportunities would be available on completion of their course.


7.15 The majority of students were achieving their coursework. Certificated courses on offer ranged from Literacy and Numeracy Access Courses, through SVQ levels 2 and 3 to Open University undergraduate courses. At the time of the inspection one prisoner was putting the final touches to his portfolio submission for his Higher art exam. However learning centre staff have not systematically updated learners ILPs to record and monitor progress on the development of softer skills such as confidence in learning. Staff make good use of certificated courses, and provide internal certificates to celebrate prisoner achievement when appropriate. However, Moray College was awaiting accreditation for the level three programme in Horticulture, and assessment had not taken place on the City and Guilds course in joinery. This resulted in a delay in learners achieving their qualifications.

7.16 The prison magazine "Peter Patter" has recently been relaunched and is now produced and edited by a group of nine prisoners. Prisoners presented their ideas for change to the Governor, and were now enthusiastically writing and preparing their next issue. The editorial group meet weekly and use the learning centre as a base. The magazine attempts to raise serious issues as well as provide entertainment and information. This is an area of good practice.

Ethos and Values

7.17 Staff enjoy a good working relationship between the LSE provider and the prison. The Unit Manager Prisoner Activities holds regular meetings to monitor progress towards targets. VT staff work collaboratively with learning centre staff in the interests of the prisoner. Relationships between staff and prisoners in LSE activity were 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

7.18 Quality assurance and improvement strategies are mostly informal and staff do not deploy a systematic approach to ascertain what actions are necessary for improvement. Discussion between learning centre staff has led to quality improvements but these are not formally recorded or monitored. Learners have no input into formal action plans but are consulted on an informal basis through discussions in classes and workshops. Formal meetings between the Unit Manager Prisoner Activities and the Learning Centre Manager have resulted in improvements to the achievement of contract targets, including class profiles and an increase in the number of classes on offer.


7.19 The provision of LSE in Peterhead Prison is good overall. Learners are clearly enjoying their learning experiences and are well motivated and committed to their studies. The staff are well qualified and experienced and have established very good relations with their learners. Prisoners are achieving within their classes and activities. However, the provision of LSE would benefit from an overall strategic development plan integrating all current and potential delivery mechanisms. This would give a clear sense of direction and impetus to the provision of LSE and help to ensure that the LSE opportunities provided fully meet the needs of prisoners.

8. Care

Family Contact

8.1 For those prisoners and families who wish to remain in contact, arrangements are good. Visit times are set, but within the slots arrangements are flexible and prisoners can spend as long as they want with their visitors within these defined times.

8.2 The main visits and waiting rooms remain the same as those described in the last full inspection report three years ago. They are not well furnished and the waiting room can only seat a handful of visitors. At weekends visitors still have to wait in a bus outside the prison. The bus is rented for that purpose. An "overflow" visits room comprises two classrooms in the Learning Centre, which are divided by a partition. The partition is removed for the weekend visit sessions if required. The Learning Centre is located in the main prison and it is possible that some visitors may not welcome being in this area. SPS have decided not to fund a new Gate/Visit complex but it is recommended again that the visits facility is improved.

8.3 Although the visits and waiting rooms require to be improved, all prisoners spoken to were satisfied with the general visiting arrangements - particularly the flexibility within the allocated times. There are adequate notices in the waiting room for families and the SPS "comments sheet for visitors" was readily available. Toilets were clean and accessible.

8.4 There is one Family Contact Development Officer in post and he is currently building up a team of four additional staff. The role of FCDO is in addition to other duties within the prison. The FCDO scheme works well in conjunction with the Personal Officer Scheme.

Physical Education

8.5 Peterhead has two full time PE Instructors and two residential officers who provide support. The two residential officers are qualified sports and games instructors. In the near future a third full time post is being created in the gym. Facilities are very basic. Much of the floor space in the gym is now taken up by equipment as exercise preferences change.

8.6 In the summer prisoners can exercise outside. There is an all weather football pitch, a jogging track and a large concrete chessboard. Prisoners can also participate in outdoor bowling.

8.7 The provision of PE in Peterhead is geared to meet the specific needs of its prisoner population. Every new prisoner receives a personalised induction. The different equipment available is explained and prisoners are encouraged to adopt a healthy lifestyle. The timetable in place allows prisoners from all areas to regularly attend the gym. Particularly enthusiastic individuals can attend four days per week. PE Instructors try to involve everyone in the prison in some activity: including carpet bowls, badminton, football, volleyball, aerobics, boxercise, basketball, weight lifting, exercise bikes, rowing machines and a variety of other cardio vascular exercise machines.

8.8 Prisoners cannot currently attain sports based qualifications. However, this is being reviewed when the third Instructor is recruited. There are some concerns about this because the nature of the offences committed makes it unlikely that Peterhead prisoners could ever work in a sports centre or a gym. This should be carefully managed.

8.9 PE staff organise two 'well person' days each year for prisoners and staff. Health Centre staff also help. The participation levels are very encouraging with 20 - 25% of staff attending and 60 - 70% of prisoners. This has contributed significantly to Peterhead achieving the Gold SHAW Award in 2001.

8.10 Despite the limited facilities, PE provision is well organised and is meeting the needs of the prisoner population.

Social Work

8.11 The social work team comprises four social workers and a team leader employed by Aberdeenshire Council. The team has experienced difficulties in filling vacancies, reflecting the acute recruitment problems rural areas face at a time of a national shortfall in qualified social workers. Most recently it advertised on three occasions before filling a post that had been vacant for over eight months.

8.12 All prisoners have an allocated worker in the team who is responsible for carrying out statutory work in relation to that individual and for responding to any self-referrals for advice and assistance they may make. Statutory work includes preparing reports for the Parole Board, courts or life prisoners' tribunals; screening requests from Schedule 1 prisoners for visits from children; attending pre-release meetings within the prison; risk management meetings in prison and in the community; and contributing to Sentence Management.

8.13 The team has little capacity to undertake much work beyond their statutory tasks. Staff have received all appropriate SPS training (including ACT and Control and Restraint) and the team leader participates in a number of strategic and operational working groups in the prison. In all other respects, however, social work staff play a fairly minor part in the life of the prison. They do not facilitate groupwork, are not included in the formal induction process (though separately ensure that they meet all prisoners normally within three days of admission), and have a low profile within the day-to-day life of the prison. For example, while hall notice boards publicise other resources there is no mention of social work services. Prisoners spoken to were not aware who their allocated social worker was although knew how to make a self-referral if they needed to.

8.14 The low profile of the team is underlined by its isolated physical location in the prison (within the former Peterhead 'Unit') and its limited access to suitable interviewing facilities. The prison requires the team to compete on a 'first come first served' basis for access to the interview rooms used by external agencies such as solicitors and community-based social workers and to adhere to the same visiting times as these agencies. The prison has only two private interview rooms and meetings with prisoners regularly have to take place in the open visiting room. Despite privacy screens in this room, sensitive and confidential information is audible.

8.15 Funding has been made available to allow the team to recruit one additional social worker to facilitate the STOP programme and a further two workers to meet the additional workload demands that the introduction of Integrated Case Management ( ICM) will bring. However, given the recruitment difficulties that exist it is unlikely that these posts will be filled for some time.

8.16 The implications of any delay in recruitment are serious and may mean that the prison cannot fully implement ICM for some months despite planning to do so on 1 June. The prison has estimated that ICM will involve an average 30 case conferences per month. Social work staff within the prison state they cannot cope with this demand within existing resources.

8.17 The social work team also potentially face IT barriers in implementing ICM. They have had no guidance on how their 'stand-alone' system will link with the prison system and until recently had access to only one SPIN computer. They have now received another computer but are sceptical that it will be sufficient to meet the new demands.

8.18 It was also particularly concerning to find that some prisoners did not have an allocated supervising social worker in the responsible local authority and that some of those who did had never met this worker. The Scottish Executive has issued guidance to local authorities about their roles and responsibilities in relation to long-term prisoners and have provided additional funding to ensure that they can meet the requirements to maintain minimum levels of contact with those prisoners throughout their sentence. There is no clear reason why this is not happening as it should, particularly given the potentially high level of risk these prisoners present. Though the prison's geographical location undoubtedly makes it more difficult to maintain contact it appears that some local authorities have managed to overcome this problem while others make less effort to do so. It is recommended that all prisoners have an allocated supervising social worker in the responsible local authority. These supervising social workers must visit prisoners during their sentence.

8.19 The prison has no Links Centre or equivalent. The link between prison and community resources is directly through the supervising social worker and it is therefore particularly important that this link works well. It is recommended that the link between prison and community social work resources is improved.

8.20 Prisoners should receive the same standard of service regardless of the authority they will return to on release. If this does not happen the proposed Integrated Case Management system will not work as it is meant to. In order to assist prisoners to resettle successfully back into the community and to manage properly any risks they may pose it is vital that services work together throughout a prisoner's sentence and into the period of post-release supervision.

8.21 Overall, social work services within the prison do not consistently play the role in prisoners' lives that they could and should. The limited capacity of the prison social work team, its isolated position within the prison, and the inconsistent approach by local authorities to discharging their throughcare responsibilities to prisoners contribute to this.


8.22 The psychology staffing complement for Peterhead is one senior (full time), two team leaders (full time), and four psychologists (three full time, one part time). The current position is that the senior's post is vacant and an additional counselling/clinical psychologist is providing one day a week focusing on mental health work. The previous senior also provides one day a week cover as a temporary measure.

8.23 Apart from the additional clinical resource, the bulk of the psychologists' time is devoted to supporting programmes, particularly STOP. To a much lesser degree, the team attends the Risk Management Group and completes risk assessments as required. They also complete violence assessments, provide an input to Sentence Management training, and take part in management meetings.

8.24 At the time of inspection the service being provided appeared disjointed. The service being provided by the forensic psychologists and the service being provided by the clinical psychologist had led to confusion. On the day of inspection only the previous senior psychologist was in the prison. This disjointed feeling should be addressed.

8.25 Having said that, the number of completions of the STOP programme has increased significantly from the last full inspection.


8.26 The programmes unit is staffed by one First Line Manager and ten officers. One of these officer posts is vacant. There is a very well appointed and self-contained set of offices with group rooms and ancillary accommodation. The prison based social workers are still not involved in programme delivery although an additional post is planned which will address this.

8.27 Peterhead receives a great deal of attention due to its work with sex-offenders and it is difficult to describe how issues around the offence specific programmes dominate so much of life within the prison. Staff encourage prisoners to participate. Although some do participate, as many as one third do not. Some prisoners see the encouragement as coercion. In turn some prisoners try to undermine the programmes, discouraging others from participating. They also seek opportunities to have staff and others who are in the prison collude with their views both about the programmes and about their offending behaviour. Some participate willingly, others participate in order to meet conditions for release. Others make great play of being willing to participate but welcome the current waiting list for offence specific programmes since it means they are unlikely to have to commit to participate.

8.28 For those observing or inspecting, these claims and counterclaims can be bewildering. There is a sense of continually being alert to what meaning might lie behind even quite innocuous conversations. There is a sizeable group of highly manipulative individuals among this prisoner population.

8.29 All of this makes the delivery of programmes a complex activity. The fact that some staff have dealt with the hugely demanding task of delivering programmes and coping with the personal demands that arise for over six years has to be recognised. The commitment of staff to delivering programmes is commendable.

8.30 Adding to the complexity surrounding this issue is the fact that there is little evidence to help answer the question "does it work?". So central is the programme in reducing re-offending among sex offenders in Scotland that such evidence must be gathered soon. It is recommended again that evidence of the effectiveness of the STOP programmes is gathered soon.

8.31 Programmes currently run are as follows:

  • STOP (2000) Core Programme (referred to as Core STOP). This runs with approximately eight prisoners over eight to nine months and has 85 sessions. There is a complex monitoring and evaluation process in place. The prison is able to run two of these per year from its resources.
  • Adapted STOP is designed for those who cannot undertake STOP for educational or learning reasons. There are four sessions per week over nine months with monitoring and evaluation.
  • Extended STOP is aimed at those who have completed STOP. The programme is aimed at those prisoners who have completed Core STOP and who require further work to reduce the risk of re-offending.
  • olling STOP runs for four to five months with additional individual work and is aimed at low to medium risk offenders. It is also used for high risk offenders who have completed other programmes as a 'top up' and to assist the relapse prevention plans.

8.32 Completions of STOP are as follows:






























8.33 Forty two completions are anticipated in 2006-07.

8.34 In addition, three non-offence specific programmes are run. They are important not just in themselves, but to encourage individuals to participate in group work as a step towards the offence specific programme. These programmes are:

  • Cognitive Skills (which will be replaced by the updated "Constructs" in 2006-07)
  • Relationships
  • Sensible Drinking

8.35 Completions of these programmes is as follows:





Cognitive Skills










Sensible Drinking





Anger Management










8.36 Anger Management is not available due to issues related to accreditation. There is no drug related programme available. This is a considerable gap since Phoenix House, who has the contract for drug work in SPS are specifically contracted not to work with sex-offenders.

8.37 Prisoners are referred to Programmes as part of Induction and through Sentence Management. There is a considerable waiting list for the offence specific programmes. Previously, prisoners were allocated to these in order to allow completion prior to their Parole Qualification Date. Access is now based on completion prior to Earliest Date of Liberation. Life sentence prisoners have their date of access based on a target of four years prior to being considered for parole. Additional pressures come from the conditions set both by the Parole Board and by Life Sentence Tribunals who may set programme completion as a condition of release.

8.38 There are currently 129 prisoners on the waiting list for STOP programmes. It is almost inevitable that many will be released before they have taken part in a programme; this has to be a concern for public safety. It is not an issue the prison is able to address in isolation. It is recommended again that further STOP programmes should be available to address the waiting list which exists.

Race Relations

8.39 Peterhead has one Race Relations Manager and two Race Relations Officers in post. These duties are in addition to others within the establishment. There is no Race Relations Monitoring Group in place and this should be addressed.

8.40 At the time of inspection there were seven ethnic minority prisoners being held. Three of these were foreign nationals. One Muslim prisoner worked in the kitchen preparing special diets, another had been involved with the library and the choosing of specialist books. Religious ceremonies are catered for and the prison has access to the telephone translating service.

8.41 Four complaints relating to race relations were made in the past year. All had been dealt with appropriately.


8.42 The Chaplaincy Team comprises one Church of Scotland (four days a week) and one Roman Catholic (nine hours a week) chaplains. An Episcopal chaplain provides a service monthly and the Prison Fellowship visit regularly. Support is available from the Mosque at Aberdeen, and there are regular visits from the Society of Friends and occasional visits from Buddhists.

8.43 A Church of Scotland Service is given every Sunday and a Roman Catholic Service every Friday. Both of these are well attended. The team holds occasional "prisoner nights" in which prisoners participate in poem recitals, gospel singing, etc. The aim is to hold these every six weeks or so. The prison magazine "Peter Patter", which is now run by prisoners, was a chaplaincy initiative.

8.44 The Chaplaincy Team is fully involved in wider issues within the prison. One member of the team attends the morning management meetings; this is an area of good practice. The team is also a member of the Community Work Party Placement Team, the SHAW Committee, and the Multi-Disciplinary Mental Health Team. They are developing an "Alpha" Course (Faith Awareness). The chaplains felt very well supported by the Governor and the Management Team.

Visiting Committee

8.45 Six of the eight members of the Visiting Committee met with the inspection team. The Committee works in pairs and each month one pair makes two visits. Additionally the committee meets Quarterly.

8.46 The members indicated that complaints and requests to see the visiting Committee are rare and that complaints tend to be related to individual issues. There are no identifiable trends in complaining.

8.47 The Committee highlighted their main concerns as being:

  • the impact of the continued uncertainty about the future of the prison
  • very poor opportunities for prisoners at the end of their sentences to progress
  • lack of opportunities for prisoners to gain qualifications which would improve their employability
  • lack of continuity over access to the work opportunities
  • a perception that the change in the education provider has led to a more haphazard provision of learning

8.48 The Visiting Committee has a good relationship with Management who they view as being approachable and supportive. In turn the chair of the Committee sits on a local Community Forum and supports the prison's efforts to find some opportunities for prisoners to be tested in the local community.

9. Services

Estates and Facilities

9.1 The Estates Department had a staff complement of 14 at the time of inspection. This is a significant reduction from the 29 staff at the time of the last full inspection. A further reduction in this number is planned.

9.2 The uncertain future of Peterhead has meant that relatively little capital investment has been made since the installation of electrical power in cells. Work has been carried out to install fire escapes to meet legislative requirements. Otherwise, most spend has been on routine maintenance. Even here the planned preventative maintenance programme has become a reactive maintenance response. A simple example of this which affects prisoners is that the planned programme of replacing light bulbs has ceased. Bulbs are replaced when they fail. If a cell bulb fails at the weekend it is not replaced until the following week. In addition to disadvantaging prisoners, this poses a potential safety issue. A planned preventative maintenance estate programme should be reinstated. Despite this, Peterhead presents as a clean and well decorated prison. Given this situation relating to little capital investment, as well as concerns expressed by the Visiting Committee and staff it is recommended that a decision is made on the future of the prison.

Health and Safety

9.3 The Health and Safety Co-ordinator was recruited three years ago. He has appropriate professional qualifications and is supported by the Estates Manager. He also covers the roles of Fire Safety Officer and Environment Manager.

9.4 The H & S Co-ordinator monitors safety in the prison, organises accident investigations and undertakes work place inspections and risk assessments. He also provides advice as necessary to managers and staff on H & S related matters.

9.5 The Health and Safety Committee meets quarterly and is chaired by the Estates Manager. All functional areas are represented at the meetings as well as TUS representatives. Minutes seen by inspectors show that the meetings focus on appropriate issues and action points are identified and reviewed at subsequent meetings.

9.6 There is signage prominently displayed throughout the prison promoting good H & S practice. In particular the demands of managing the risks attached to the practice of slopping out are appropriately advertised. An accident book is held in the Health Centre.

9.7 The H & S Co-ordinator tabulates accident data. The table converts information on time lost as a result of an accident into financial terms. This helps focus Managers' attention on the impact of accidents. Where an identified training need is identified from an accident the conversion of the lost time into money helps justify expenditure on training. In a recent Health and Safety Executive Inspection two improvement notices were received. These have been addressed.

9.8 The overall Health & Safety culture in Peterhead is excellent.

Human Resources and Staff Training

9.9 A Human Resource Manager, Training & Development Manager and HR Assistant manage HR and staff training.

9.10 A significant amount of time is spent monitoring staff absence, which has been a problem in the recent past. In the period between January 2005 and May 2006 3,445 days were lost to staff absence. It is worth noting that 1,548 of these days were listed as lost to stress related illnesses. The HR Department have a coaching, advising and monitoring role for First Line Managers.

9.11 This level of absence can make it difficult to cover posts. However, it was encouraging that this had not led to a culture of locking prisoners in their cells more than would be the norm. On the first day of inspection Peterhead welcomed seven new operations officers. These are the first new recruits in Peterhead since May 2004. Their arrival may alleviate some of the staffing problems.

9.12 The prison successfully renewed its IIP Accreditation in July 2005.

9.13 Staff training is very well organised and the facilities for training in the prison are excellent. Facilities for IT training are particularly impressive.

9.14 Staff in workshops have recently started to receive training which in turn will allow them to provide qualifications to prisoners in their area. This is an area of good practice.


9.15 The kitchen is old with limited space. However, it is functional, clean and fit for purpose. In order to get best value from the £1.57 per prisoner per day budget, the kitchen tries to make as many of the meals they provide as possible from raw materials. The Catering Manager estimated that 98% of meals were created in this way.

9.16 There are Environmental Health Officer inspections annually and a daily Food Safety Monitoring system is completed in the kitchen by staff.

9.17 The kitchen employs 10 - 15 prisoners each day from a pool of 25. Those not in the kitchen will be involved in programmes, education, physical education or other activities. New workers are interviewed, and their personal hygiene standards and general health are checked. An induction checklist is used with all new workers. The safe system of work for each task in the kitchen is covered and the prisoner and Catering Officer sign the induction checklist on completion.

9.18 A room adjacent to the kitchen is used as a dining room by kitchen workers. At one time prisoners working in the kitchen could attain qualifications. This has now lapsed. The prison should reintroduce the opportunity for prisoners to attain qualifications in the kitchen.

9.19 All Peterhead prisoners pre-select their menu choices two weeks in advance. Religious, cultural and medical needs are catered for within the menu. A Muslim prisoner works in the kitchen and helps with the arrangements for other Muslim prisoners.

9.20 Storage arrangements are very well organised. Special diet items are kept separately in a lockable fridge, as are other items which used to be frequently stolen.

9.21 Catering Officers with professional qualifications create the menu. They ensure that the choices available provide the opportunity for all prisoners to have a healthy diet. Healthy and low-fat options are highlighted on the menu. This is an area of good practice. When required, medical advice will be given by health centre staff on a prisoner's dietary needs.

9.22 Catering meetings take place on a regular basis. Prisoners are given the opportunity to raise complaints and suggest changes to the menu. The catering service provided is popular with prisoners. In the most recent prisoner survey the findings in Peterhead were very encouraging. The percentage listed is the aggregate of those who said very good, good or okay:


SPS average

The choice of menu



The size of portions



The temperature of the food



The way in which food is served



The timing of meals



9.23 Despite these very positive results from prisoners there are some shortcomings in the catering service. Prisoners are served their meals from a servery in their hall. Prisoners and officers who serve the food from the hall serveries do not always wear white overalls and food-handling training has not been provided. Apart from those in 'E' Hall, the Unit and 'C' Hall everyone eats in their cell. Eating in a room in which they sleep and use a chemical toilet is unacceptable. Most prisoners have their own cutlery and plates. They are expected to clean them themselves but the facilities and washing up liquid needed to do so are not available in all areas. These issues should be addressed.

9.24 Senior Managers only rarely sample prisoners' food and when they do they always do so in the kitchen. A senior Manager should sample a meal every day, and should do so in the halls as well as in the kitchen.

9.25 One very good initiative is the way cereals are issued. It is a self-service system. Cereal dispensers are kept in the kitchen and taken to each hall in the morning. The dispensers hold a variety of cereals. A prisoner can choose which cereal he would like and a set portion is dispensed. The cereal is stored safely and dispensing is hygienic. There is no wastage, no need to put the cereal into portion bags, cereal can be bought more cheaply in bulk and those prisoners who like to have cereal for breakfast can do so. This is an area of good practice.


9.26 The laundry facility is excellent. There is sufficient washing and drying capacity to meet the needs of the prison, and also undertake some contract work from outside the prison.

9.27 Peterhead has a machine for stone washing denims and it does this for all SPS prison issue denims. It also cleans all of the mops and other cleaning items for the prison every week.

9.28 All clothing in Peterhead is personalised. Prison or personal items have a label discretely ironed on with the owner's name and prison number. This is an area of good practice.

9.29 The laundry has one Officer Instructor and employs 13 prisoners. Some of these prisoners work on a part-time basis. There is a logical rotation system in place for laundry from the halls. The system facilitates prisoners being able to launder their items of dirty clothing daily and their bedding weekly.

9.30 Dirty laundry arrives in "dirty" barrows each morning and after it has been washed and dried it leaves in "clean" barrows. All kit is listed and sorted when it arrives and losses or damage are rare. The Officer Instructor maintains a detailed database of all items laundered for management information.

9.31 There is no certificated training available in the laundry. Prisoners receive on-site practical coaching from the Officer Instructor or from other prisoners. If the Officer Instructor had the appropriate qualification prisoners in the laundry could gain certification in the work they are doing. All of the other elements needed are in place. This is a missed opportunity.


9.32 Peterhead uses the 'Bag & Tag' system. The Canteen is managed by two administration staff. One prisoner also helps. Prisoners can receive items from the Canteen once a week. The administrative process is well organised and there are very few problems with the system.

9.33 Wage sheets go to the halls every Tuesday. Sheets are checked and orders made up on Wednesday. Bags are issued on Thursday. There is a rotation system so a different hall is served first each week. Any discrepancies are sorted out on Fridays. Friday is also when the books are balanced and the next week's orders are telephoned in. Deliveries arrive on the Monday ready for the process beginning again.

9.34 A Canteen Committee meets every three months. Prisoner representatives from each residential unit attend as well as staff from throughout the prison. The Committee meetings are a useful way for prisoners to influence the items available and express their views on prices and the system in general.

9.35 Peterhead uses a similar Canteen sheet to other prisons. It has not taken up the opportunity to use the Canteen sheet as a means of communicating with prisoners.

10. Good Practice

10.1 The prison magazine "Peter Patter" (paragraph 7.16).

10.2 One of the chaplains attends the morning management meetings (paragraph 8.44).

10.3 Staff in workshops have received training which will allow them to provide qualifications to prisoners in their area (paragraph 9.14).

10.4 Healthy and low-fat options are highlighted on the menus (paragraph 9.21).

10.5 The way in which cereals are dispensed (paragraph 9.25).

10.6 All clothing is personalised (paragraph 9.28).

11. Recommendations

11.1 A way of restricting persistent and trivial complaints, without inhibiting the right of prisoners to make complaints should be found (paragraph 3.15).

11.2 A pre-release programme suitable to the assessed needs of prisoners in Peterhead should be developed and implemented, and made available to all prisoners prior to any arrangements being made for liberation (paragraphs 5.15 and 5.19).

11.3 Staffing issues within the health centre should be resolved as a matter of urgency (paragraph 6.10).

11.4 The visits facility should be improved (paragraph 8.2).

11.5 All prisoners should have an allocated supervising social worker in the responsible local authority. These supervising social workers must visit prisoners during their sentence (paragraph 8.18).

11.6 The link between prison and community social work resources should be improved (paragraph 8.19).

11.7 Evidence of the effectiveness of the STOP programmes should be gathered soon (paragraph 8.30).

11.8 Further STOP programmes should be available to address the waiting list which exists (paragraph 8.38).

11.9 A decision should be made on the future of the prison (paragraph 9.2).

12. Points of Note

12.1 The temperature of the showers in 'B' Annexe, 'A' Hall, 'B' Hall, 'C' Hall and 'D' Hall should be monitored by staff and remedial action taken when necessary (paragraph 2.9).

12.2 The doors on the toilet cubicles in 'B' Annexe, 'A' Hall, 'B' Hall, 'C' Hall and 'D' Hall should be made larger (paragraph 2.11).

12.3 A canopy should be fitted to the uncovered telephone in 'C' Hall (paragraph 2.13).

12.4 Prisoners should be issued with hand wipes to ensure they maintain reasonable levels of hygiene (paragraph 2.15).

12.5 Prisoners should be able to acquire the equipment and materials they need to keep their cells clean (paragraph 2.15).

12.6 Prisoners in 'E' Hall should be allowed to use the telephone during patrol periods (paragraph 2.21).

12.7 The prison should address the needs of prisoners who experienced alcohol or drug problems before coming into custody, or before transferring to Peterhead from other establishments (paragraph 4.4).

12.8 The drainage in the shower in reception should be repaired (paragraph 5.1).

12.9 SPS should ensure that the escort contractor carries out planned escorts regularly, on time, and a time that meets the needs of the rest of the prison (paragraph 5.2).

12.10 Formal links between Sentence Management, Social Work and Psychology should be established to ensure delivery of throughcare (paragraph 5.12).

12.11 The way in which referrals to the mental health service are screened should be reviewed (paragraph 6.13).

12.12 Ways of providing a day care type facility for prisoners with mental health issues should be examined (paragraph 6.14).

12.13 The prison should ensure that it has sufficient aids and adaptations to meet the needs of the prisoner population (paragraph 6.22).

12.14 The temperature in the learning centre should be controlled sufficiently to always ensure a pleasant learning environment (paragraph 7.3).

12.15 The lending system in the library should be computerised (paragraph 7.5).

12.16 Learners with shorter sentences, or those coming to the end of their sentences should have more opportunities to access VT workshops (paragraph 7.8).

12.17 A strategic plan for the provision of learning, skills and employability should be developed (paragraphs 7.10 and 7.19).

12.18 Learners who are about to complete their courses should be given the opportunity to discuss what further opportunities are available on completion of their course (paragraph 7.14).

12.19 Quality assurance and improvement strategies in LSE should be formalised (paragraph 7.18).

12.20 The proposal to offer sports based qualifications should be carefully managed (paragraph 8.8).

12.21 Interviewing facilities for social workers should be improved (paragraph 8.14).

12.22 Social work services within the prison should have a greater role in prisoners' lives (paragraph 8.21).

12.23 The disjointed feeling within the Psychology Department should be addressed (paragraph 8.24).

12.24 A planned preventative maintenance estate programme should be reinstated (paragraph 9.2).

12.25 The prison should reintroduce the opportunity for prisoners to attain qualifications in the kitchen (paragraph 9.18).

12.26 Prisoners and staff who serve food in the halls should always wear white overalls (paragraph 9.23).

12.27 Food-handling training should be provided to all prisoners and staff who serve meals (paragraph 9.23).

12.28 Facilities and washing up liquid required by prisoners to clean their cutlery and plates should be provided (paragraph 9.23).

12.29 A senior Manager should sample a meal every day, and should do so in the halls as well as in the kitchen (paragraph 9.24).

12.30 Certificated training should be available in the laundry (paragraph 9.31).

12.31 The prison should use the canteen sheet as a means of communicating with prisoners (paragraph 9.35).

Annex 1 Sources of Evidence

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

Annex 2 Inspection Team

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

Peter Connelly

Education Adviser

Sean Doherty

Healthcare Adviser

Alna Robb

Healthcare Adviser

Irene Scullion

Addictions and Social Work Adviser