BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: UK: Scotland
Front Page 
Northern Ireland 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Monday, 11 June, 2001, 13:28 GMT 14:28 UK
Prison turnaround is praised
Cornton Vale prison
The improvement at Cornton Vale has been "quite remarkable"
Scotland's only all-female jail has improved beyond recognition since its last inspection, according to Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons Clive Fairweather.

The latest inspection of Cornton Vale prison near Stirling showed a tremendous range of improvements since the last report five years ago.

Mr Fairweather said that all of the criticisms in his last inspection report had been addressed by the prison.

In 1996, the conditions at Cornton Vale were "wholly inadequate and inappropriate", said Mr Fairweather.

It is clearly evident now that after a short time in Cornton Vale the general condition of prisoners begins markedly to improve.

Clive Fairweather
After the latest inspection in May, he has concluded that the improvement at the prison is "quite remarkable".

He said: "We were particularly pleased that remand prisoners in the recently built Ross House experience the best of conditions - indeed probably the best conditions for remand prisoners anywhere in the Scottish Prison Service.

"They are also now being offered some work opportunities, which we understand is unique."

Conditions at the institution came under the spotlight after eight inmates committed suicide in their cells between 1995 and 1998.

Clive Fairweather
Clive Fairweather: "Improved almost beyond recognition"
Mr Fairweather reported a dramatic reduction in the number of self-harm incidents - 115 cases in 1999, falling to 72 in 2000 and 13 in 2001.

He also praised the new health centre, which looks like becoming a centre of excellence and the greater range of activities and programmes available throughout the prison, designed or adapted to specifically help female prisoners.

Mr Fairweather added: "What has not changed since 1996 is the condition of the women arriving at the prison gates.

"If anything their condition is even worse and they are getting younger and younger.

"Additionally, on arrival around 90% have taken illegal substances. However, it is a tribute to the work of staff that subsequently the random mandatory drug testing rate is as low as 11%.

Casualty clearing station

"It is clearly evident now that after a short time in Cornton Vale the general condition of prisoners begins markedly to improve.

"Not only is this prison providing secure custody, it is also acting as a "casualty clearing station", psychiatric ward, and now an addictions clinic as well.

He paid tribute to what has been achieved by the management team and the staff at Cornton Vale, together with support from many outside agencies.

"At a time when staff are having to handle record number of prisoners, it has been quite remarkable," he said.

A full written report of Mr Fairweather's conclusions will not be available for a few months.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

22 May 01 | Scotland
Prison comes under spotlight
01 Feb 00 | Scotland
'Justice' plea over prison suicide
02 Sep 99 | Scotland
Call for new teen offenders strategy
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Scotland stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Scotland stories