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Scottish Prison Service Criticised Over 'Forgotten' Inmates

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    Scottish Prison Service Criticised Over 'Forgotten' Inmates

    A HM Prison Service report has heavily criticised Scottish jails for not ensuring inmates do not embrace a life of crime on leaving prison.

    Her Majesty's Prison Service Chief Inspector, Hugh Munro, highlighted concerns over drug smuggling and addiction within Scottish prisons. He also criticised prisons for not adequately rehabilitating inmates in order to discourage reoffending.

    According to his report, Mr Munro wrote, "Without being able to track offenders when they are back in the community, it is almost impossible to measure the effectiveness of the various programmes and interventions to which they have been exposed in prison."

    "When I ask prison governors how effective interventions have been in reducing re-offending and in changing a prisoner's behaviour, attitude and response for the better, they are unable to provide any clear evidence of what works." wrote Mr Munro.

    Hugh Munro Critcises 'Unsatisfactory' State of Rehabilitation in Scottish Prisons

    Munro also noted his concerns over the drugs culture present in so many of Scotland's prisons. Making reference to this, the report continued, "The smuggling of drugs, mobile phones and weapons into prisons remains unacceptably high. This activity makes prisons less safe, enables criminal activity to continue and causes bullying and intimidation."

    Responding to the report, a Scottish Prison Service (SPS) released a statement saying, "In relation to rehabilitation of offenders, the SPS remains committed to providing the level of support that addresses the risks and needs of all offenders sentenced to custody."

    "The SPS recognises the important contribution that specific interventions and activities can play in preparing offenders for release and in helping them break the cycle of reoffending."

    Opposition Politicians Call For Reform in Scottish Prisons Following Munro's Report

    Scottish opposition politicians were quick to respond to Mr Munro's report, calling for more comprehensive anti-drug measures in prisons. Conservative MSP, John Lamont called for regular drug testing in prisons and a reduction in the blanket use of methadone to treat heroin users.

    In a statement released on 23 September 2010, the Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Justice said "[Prisoners] are being parked on methadone and forgotten about. It is clear that the attempts over the last decade to deal with Scotland's problem of drug abuse by using harm reduction methods and an over reliance on methadone have just not worked. Therefore it is pleasing that the Chief Inspector of Prisons has made these findings today."

    "Scottish Conservatives worked relentlessly to create a new national drugs strategy, based on recovery and leading to abstinence. We also want tougher measures to crack down on drug abuse in our jails and for prisoners to engage in activities that aid their rehabilitation, rather than sit in their cells all day."

    Neil M. White


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