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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-01442: Monica Lennon (Central Scotland)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 13 July 2016

To ask the Scottish Government what recent action it has taken to reduce violence in prisons.

Answered by: Michael Matheson 10 August 2016

I have asked Colin McConnell, Chief Executive of the Scottish Prison Service (SPS), to respond. His response is as follows:

The reduction in violence amongst prisoners remains an on-going priority for the SPS. Attempts to prevent violence are reviewed through the analysis and assessment of emerging trends across the prison estate which in turn, supports the SPS Violence Reduction Strategy.

The Strategy contains a number of physical security counter measures which includes the use of body scanners, cell sense detectors and mobile phone signal denial technology. These measures are used in addition to officer searching, dog unit tactical searches, intelligence gathering and joint operations with Police Scotland. These operations can be proactive by using intelligence to prevent violence or post incident to enable investigation or analysis of an event. Case conferencing is also used to prevent bullying alongside family conferencing and victim support which are integral in SPS’ approach to reducing violent incidents.

All staff are also provided with appropriate training in order to detect, deter, de-escalate and, if necessary, protect themselves, prisoners and others from violent acts. Operational Staff are trained in Control and Restraint techniques which are a recognised safe system of work designed to enable staff to manage violent situations in an appropriate manner where intervention is necessary. Staff will wherever possible use communication skills and other non-physical techniques to gain the co-operation of prisoners in an attempt to de-escalate a situation.

As part of our commitment to ensuring policies, processes and procedures reflect best practice and support Scottish Government’s commitment to creating a safer and stronger Scotland, the existing SPS Violence Reduction Policy is currently under review; the policy will be fully refreshed and implemented nationally by the end of 2016. Further reviews will take place bi-annually thereafter.