Irish Penal Reform Trust

HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland Remote Monitoring Framework

5th May 2020

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, HM Inspectorate of Prisons Scotland temporarily suspended all prison, Court Custody Unit (CCU), and prisoner transport inspections. However, it has now developed an adapted methodology to inspection and monitoring, resulting in a Remote Monitoring Framework and Liaison Visits Framework, which will allow for the continued safe visitation to prisons and other settings, ensuring human rights are upheld.

The Remote Monitoring Framework underwent proof of concept testing commencing 27 April 2020 and will be subject to continuous improvement and formally reviewed in July 2020.

The Framework sets out actions based on the CPT Statement of principles relating to the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty in the context of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Interestingly, these actions are then given a set of indicators each, by which HMIPS will monitor their achievement. For example, where the action is “To take all possible action to protect the health and safety of all persons deprived of their liberty. Taking such action also contributes to preserving the health and safety of staff” this will be monitored by:

  • Using core data to inform an assessment of risk, including numbers of people being isolated and staff percentage absenteeism due to suspected COVID-19.
  • Establishing at national and local level matters such as the availability of PPE, changes in availability of healthcare services and access in some form of alternative purposeful activity

Where the action is "In cases of isolation or placement in quarantine of a detained person who is infected, or is suspected of being infected, by the COVID-19 virus the person concerned should be provided with meaningful human contact every day” this will be monitored by:

  • Looking at processes in place to ensure in-cell activity is available to those suspected of having COVID-19 and are well enough to participate
  • Ensuring a television is available to those who are isolated
  • Ensuring there is a daily check on wellbeing in a way that maintains the health and safety of all parties
  • Monitoring that people have access to meaningful human contact, for example by audio visual or telephone communication
  • Monitoring the time people are held in isolation

Another eight actions, as well as indicators for how they will be monitored, are outlined in full in the HMIPS Remote Monitoring Framework here.

Respect for rights in the penal system with prison as a last resort.

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