Irish Penal Reform Trust

Scotland: Families Outside Report on National Framework for Prison Visitors’ Centres in Scotland

19th June 2017

Families Outside have recently published their report on the National Performance Framework for Prison Visitors’ Centres in Scotland. In 2015 the Scottish Government announced that it would be providing £1.8 million over a three-year period to assist the work of Prison Visitor Centres. Any Prison Visitor Centre seeking funding from the Scottish Government will now be required to demonstrate that they can meet the standards set out in this National Performance Framework.

Some of the essential standards set out are as follows:

  • The Centre is clean and tidy;
  • The Centre is warm and well ventilated;
  • The Centre provides access to toilets and baby changing facilities;
  • Toilets meet accessibility requirements;
  • Toilet facilities are well maintained and clean;
  • The Centre operates consistent opening times and is open for all visits sessions as agreed locally with the prison and with funders;
  • Provision is made for visitors who are not entering the prison to access services.

Prison Visitors’ Centres are independent and not for profit groups that are independent of the prison they work alongside. Their main objectives are to provide a space for the families of prisoners to obtain information that is impartial, convey the concerns of the families of prisoners to the prison staff they work alongside, and to improve the visitation experience of those visiting prisoners. The organisations aim to provide a service that will improve the experience of visiting family members, especially giving an enhanced and appropriate environment for children to visit their parent. The also purport that their services help to improve prison policy by contextualising the experience of visitors, which they state influences the policies in the prison they work alongside.The Prison Visiting Centres funded by the Scottish Government will work towards the following outcomes:

  • Families are better able to address issues that arise from imprisonment;
  • Family relationships are improved;
  • Families of prisoners experience less stigma;
  • Children of prisoners have improved wellbeing (as per SHANARRI indicators of wellbeing);
  • People in prison have more motivation to improve their behaviour in prison and make positive changes to their behaviour and increased likelihood of reunification with family when they are released;
  • People in prison have improved mental health;
  • People in prison are less likely to reoffend after they are released.

See the report here.

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