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Inspectors raise concerns about staffing at Addiewell prison

HMP Addiewell
Image caption HMP Addiewell in West Lothian

Inspectors have raised concerns over staffing levels and experience at Addiewell prison.

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland Wendy Sinclair-Gieben praised the "positive and respectful" relationships between workers and inmates.

But Ms Sinclair-Gieben said staffing levels at the West Lothian prison are "far from ideal".

The jail is run by private firm Sodexo and houses about 700 male prisoners.

The report states the jail is "well poised for its next era" but adds Addiewell's "single most enduring challenge over the past few years has been retaining staff and maintaining the agreed staffing complement".

It continues: "On a number of occasions inspectors found staff with only a few months' experience being supported by staff with as little as 12 to 14 months' experience. This is a far from ideal situation".

'Solid foundations'

Across nine standards inspected at Addiewell, five were rated "satisfactory" and four "generally acceptable".

Inspectors noted a high number of missed medical appointments and suggestions that Sodexo staff did not intervene when nurses were being subjected to "verbally aggressive behaviour" on their medication rounds.

The report also registered concern over the length of time prisoners in the prison's Douglas B hall were locked in their cells - up to 22 hours a day in some cases.

Ms Sinclair-Gieben said: "Overall, the prison is on the cusp of a positive future if the momentum is maintained and the matters identified in this report are addressed.

"Sodexo and the Scottish Prison Service have worked well to lay solid foundations for a positive future if the matters identified in this report are addressed."

The inspection report comes 16 months after two Addiewell prison officers were treated in hospital after inhaling second-hand smoke from the Spice drug.

Image copyright GMP
Image caption The Spice drug is reported to be a growing problem in prisons across the UK

It is one of a range of new psychoactive substances (NPS) reported to be a growing problem in prisons across the UK.

Some prisoners told inspectors that they were concerned about their own safety as a result of the "unpredictable and unreliable behaviours" of fellow inmates using the illegal substance.

However, inspectors praised the "positive and innovative" work that the prison and Police Scotland were doing to tackle the problem,

Addiewell, which is near West Calder, opened in 2008 and was designed as a learning prison, where inmates are given the opportunity to improve their prospects of getting a job.

However, two of its workshops are not currently operating and inspectors said employment and training opportunities were too narrow.

'Good, sound, safe'

Several recommendations for improvement were made, including an extension of the number and type of employment opportunities available to prisoners.

A spokeswoman for HMP Addiewell said: "We welcome this report and the chief inspector's recognition of HMP Addiewell as a 'good, sound, safe prison'.

"The report recognised the good relationships between staff and prisoners, and both staff and prisoners reported they felt safe. Safety and security remain our top priority.

"The chief inspector made some recommendations and we have an ongoing action plan to address these.

"We accept that there have been challenges around the recruitment and retention of staff, however, the chief inspector remarked since the inspection we have worked well to address this issue, including changes to pay for prison custody officers."

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