Two thirds of Polmont inmates spending too much time in cells

Polmont YOI
Polmont YOI
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An inspection of Polmont Young Offenders Institute claimed far too many of the young men were spending the day locked in their cells.

The report by HM chief inspector of prisons for Scotland David Strang was published this week and detailed findings from an inspection carried out at the YOI between April 19 and April 21 this year, just a couple of months before the institute was due to welcome female inmates from HMP and YOI Cornton Vale.

Mr Strang said: “It was disappointing to note only just over a third of the population engaged in daily activities. As a result a sizable proportion of the young men spent extended periods of the day locked in their cells.

“Developing a culture where young men take responsibility for making constructive decisions about their lives is virtuous and should be applauded. Such an approach requires consistent encouragement of, and a level of trust in, the young men.

“This aspiration is potentially undermined if the young men are not afforded the opportunity to exercise such responsibility. Without in any way compromising security and safety, HMYOI Polmont should seek to encourage the whole population to participate actively in more activities outwith their cells.”

Mr Strang will return to HMYOI Polmont in January 2017 and said he hoped to see purposeful activity participation rates significantly higher than those he found back in April 2016.

April’s inspection did find a number of positive developments at Polmont YOI.

There was praise for the improvement in the relationships between staff and the young men and a perfect example of how a well-structured, purposeful activity can support the young men towards a productive life.

Mr Strang said: “Dedicated staff within the joinery area facilitated a young man’s continued progress with his apprenticeship, despite him being in custody. It is encouraging to see the learning activity spaces are now bright, light and welcoming.

“The concept of HMYOI Polmont as a learning environment is ambitious and progressive, and I would encourage a continuation in the development of this.”

Visit www.prisoninspectoratescotland.gov.uk for more information.