Glasgow & West Scotland

Paisley court custody cell toilets 'potential biohazard'

Paisley Sheriff Court Image copyright Google
Image caption Inspectors found urinals at Paisley Sheriff Court had been "deactivated" and could not flush

A prison watchdog has warned that urinals in custody cells at a Scottish court are a "potential biohazard".

A report by HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland described an "odour of stale urine" from the cells at Paisley Sheriff Court.

An inspection found that the cell urinals had been "deactivated" and could not flush, but were still being used by some held in custody.

The court said it had advised prisoners not to use the urinals.

They said court custody unit staff had instead urged prisoners to ask to be taken from the holding cell to a separate toilet cubicle.

'Frequently ignored'

In her foreword to the report, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland Wendy Sinclair-Gieben, said: "Deactivated urinals within the cells and the lack of sanitary bins caused a potential biohazard."

The report added: "Court custody unit staff advised that prisoners were instructed not to use the urinals and to ask to be taken from the holding cell to the toilet.

"However, this was frequently ignored and prisoners use the urinals. As they had been deactivated, they could not be flushed and a request had to be made for cleaners to attend and dispose of the urine."

Image copyright Scottish Government
Image caption Wendy Sinclair-Gieben warned of the potential biohazard

Following the inspection, sanitary bins were installed, with prisoners previously having to leave bagged sanitary products in a corner of their cell for daily collection.

Removing or covering the cell urinals to prevent use was one of a series of recommendations made by inspectors.

They also raised concerns after finding that two prisoners who were partners and both accused in a domestic violence incident had been transported in the same vehicle to court despite instructions to keep them apart.

During the journey the man shouted at the woman and told her not to talk to other prisoners.

Offensive graffiti

Inspectors said "careful consideration" should be given to how these types of prisoners were transported in future.

Generally, the report praised the court custody unit and highlighted good practice in making provision for people with restricted mobility.

However, it made further recommendations to improve prisoner confidentiality and to remove offensive graffiti in the cells.

A Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service spokesman said: "The urinals were deactivated as it was considered they breach ECHR legislation due to a lack of privacy screening in multi-occupancy cells.

"Toilets with suitable screening are available and all custodies are instructed to request toilet visits as required."

He added when funding is available the in-cell urinals fittings would be removed.

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