HMP Edinburgh is a well-run penal institution and upholds good practices in 18 areas. However, purposeful activity for inmates is not strictly among them and the second largest prison in Scotland should undertake a review to ensure that its entire population gets access to sufficient activities, according to David Strang, Scotland’s chief inspector of prisons.
This is one of 69 recommendations made by the former Lothian and Borders Police chief constable in his recently published prison inspection report. The document notes that Edinburgh prison inmates receive 15 hours of purposeful activity per week, while the average for the Scottish Prison Service is 22 hours.
In an interview for Holyrood Magazine, Strang said that HMP Edinburgh did maintain good practices when it came to the range of activities on offer. However, they are woefully underused, be it as a result of under-subscription or regular closure due to staff attendance patterns. There is immense potential to have every workshop and education class filled to capacity but that is not happening at present, he added.
Strang said that this was a great waste and something had to be done about it, since purposeful activity is a key element of rehabilitation. If prisoners obtain qualifications, develop skills or simply keep working, they will find it easier to integrate into the community when they are released. The next inspection of the prison will pay particular attention to progress made on that count, Strang commented.
The political news source also spoke to HMP Edinburgh governor Teresa Medhurst, who said that the institution was currently conducting a small-scale pilot of activity time-tabling. The aim is to assess the potential impact before the initiative gets a wider roll-out.