Polmont YOI staff praised for 'restricting risk' of COVID-19

HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland (HMIPS) believe Polmont Young Offenders Institution (YOI) has made significant strides in healthcare for those who find themselves locked up during lockdown.

Thursday, 28th January 2021, 7:30 am

Last August – during the COVID-19 pandemic – representatives of HMIPS carried out a visit at Polmont YOI with the aim of assuring government ministers and the wider public that scrutiny of the treatment and conditions in which prisoners are held has been continued during the crisis.

An HMIPS spokesperson said: “At the time of our visit the atmosphere in HMP YOI Polmont was calm and orderly, and we commend management and staff on their success in restricting the risks around the spread of COVID-19.

“It was clear efforts were being made to return the establishment to a more normal regime and reintroduce activities in a controlled manner. It was pleasing to see the significant strides that had been taken by the prison healthcare team to address the issues raised in our last full inspection report, and encouraging to see several areas of good practice identified by Health Improvement Scotland inspectors.”

Representatives of HM Inspectorate o Prisons for Scotland carried out an inspection of Polmont Young Offenders Institution

HMIPS visitors also found the relationships between the NHS and the Scottish Prison Service teams also appeared more positive on this occasion.

Inspectors stated they were particularly impressed by the introduction of Health and Wellbeing helplines into each residential flat to enable young people and women to conduct confidential calls with support agencies.

HMIPS highlighted the need to ensure “fairness and equity of access” between different groups of prisoners in relation to recreation times, access to fresh air, face-to-face visits and the need to provide fair access and maximise opportunities for work and purposeful activity.

An HMIPS spokesperson added: “We recognise the challenges in providing appropriate opportunities for all young people and women to engage in purposeful activity, particularly while having to respect physical distancing guidelines, and are concerned to ensure that should not be done by compromising access to fresh air or recreation.”

HMIPS urged the Scottish Prison Service to reintroduce offender management programmes and work as creatively as possible to address the backlog of people awaiting opportunities to go on such programmes.

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