Inspectors praise 'high performing' Dumfries prison

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Inspectors have praised a "high performing" Scots prison as being "safe and well-run".

They said incidents of violence at the Dumfries site were "very low indeed".

However, they did voice concerns about the lack of accessible cells for prisoners with disabilities at the facility built in the 19th Century.

The Scottish Prison Service said it was aware of that issue and it was working on ways to "find solutions" to the problems raised.

The HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland report said inspectors had been impressed by many aspects of how the prison was managed and operated.

In particular they flagged up:

  • Work to prevent relapses with drug and alcohol issues
  • Staff-prisoner relationships which were "almost universally considered to be positive"
  • "Good quality" employment and training opportunities
  • The prison being "one of the cleanest" they had ever visited.

Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland Wendy Sinclair-Gieben said: "The whole prison worked with a slickness that was impressive.

"It certainly is the best inspection that my inspectorate team have done in all of my tenure and they deserve praise for that."

The report said that "inevitably" there were areas where work was needed, "some as a direct consequence of the age of the buildings".

These included the lack of accessible cells for prisoners with disabilities.

The development of a visitor centre was also described as "advantageous and in line with best practice elsewhere in the estate".

The report concluded there was "no doubt" that the Dumfries prison was operating well under "strong visible leadership".

"HMP Dumfries can take pride in the positive endorsement of all their efforts that this report represents," it said.

The Scottish Prison Service welcomed the findings of the report on the south of Scotland facility.

A spokesman said the issue of accessibility was partly attributable to the age of the buildings - the prison was built in 1863 - alongside the age of many of the prisoners.

"We are aware that going forward we are going to have to find solutions to this," he added.

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