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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 July 2007, 23:39 GMT 00:39 UK
Report critical of women's prison
Cornton Vale
Cornton Vale is Scotland's only all-female prison
Conditions at Scotland's only female prison, Cornton Vale, have been heavily criticised in a new HMI report.

Despite listing six recommendations to improve the prison in 2006, inspectors found five had not been implemented.

In particular, the report condemned the continued use of handcuffs on pregnant inmates before and after they gave birth.

Last year the Scottish Prison Service gave assurances that the practice would be stopped.

Among the failings, the report also found a lack of "purposeful activities" for inmates on remand as well as inadequate toilet arrangements for some prisoners.

An incident described in this report is of a woman handcuffed almost until the point of birth and then handcuffed immediately afterwards
Dr Andrew McLellan
Chief inspector of prisons

In a follow-up to last year's report, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons, Dr Andrew McLellan, described how one mother, who had recently given birth, was not able to hold her sick baby because there was a risk her handcuffs could infect the child.

He said: "Serious concerns were raised in the inspection report of 2006 about handcuffing women being taken to hospital about to give birth.

"At that time assurances were given that the practice had stopped. It has not."

Dr McLellan said that while some things had changed since the previous inspection, these were on a small scale compared to two factors - the rising number of women sent to Cornton Vale and the "dreadful condition" most are in when they arrive there.

He also cited cases where inmates were forced to wait up to an hour before being given access to the toilet, with some using sinks instead.

Responding to the report, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: "This government believes that less serious offenders currently cluttering our jails should be paying back their debts to society - not adding to society's bill for their bed and board."

Mr MacAskill said alternatives such as supervised attendance orders - which are similar to community service orders for fine defaulters - could be a "smarter option" than sending people to jail for non-payment, saying this was particularly the case "for women who get into difficulties".

Dr Andrew McLellan speaks about his report

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27 Sep 05 |  Scotland
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01 Jul 05 |  Scotland
Prisons 'fail' long-term inmates
16 May 05 |  Scotland
Savings 'making prisons unsafe'
06 Oct 04 |  Scotland

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