Section 1: Introduction
1.1 This report presents the findings of the analysis of written responses to a further Scottish Government consultation on the Draft Public Services Reform (Inspection and Monitoring of Prisons) (formerly Prison Visiting Committees) (Scotland) Order 2014. The consultation took place between 19th September and 13th October 2014. A total of 29 written submissions were included in the analysis. One further response was received, but was too late for inclusion. The proportions given in the report, therefore, relate to the 29 responses.
Summary of Section 1
The Scottish Government carried out a further consultation on the Draft Public Services Reform (Inspection and Monitoring of Prisons) (formerly Prison Visiting Committees) (Scotland) Order 2014 between 19th September and 13th October 2014.
A total of 29 written submissions to the further consultation were analysed. By far the most common respondent category was "Visiting Committees" (38%). Other categories included: local authorities (14%); individuals (14%); criminal justice organisations (10%); inspection, monitoring or complaints organisations (10%); professional or representative organisations (7%); one organisation with a focus on health and well-being (3%) and one human rights organisation (3%).
The material has been analysed and presented quantitatively and qualitatively, reflecting the nature of this consultation process and the material received. The methodology involved: creating an analysis document with the verbatim material for each question and part of question (and any additional material); carrying out quantitative analysis of the "closed" parts of questions; and carrying out detailed analysis of the qualitative material to a series of themes and sub-themes generated from the data.
This report presents the findings which emerged, along with the range and depth of views expressed at the questions. The full responses are available for inspection on the Scottish Government website.
1.2 The Scottish Government is committed to taking forward reform of the system for independent monitoring of prisons to meet its obligations under the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture (OPCAT). The relevant Order-making power in the Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 is subject to the super-affirmative procedure which includes a formal consultation process.
1.3 This consultation on the revised draft Order followed prior Government proposals and consultation in relation to reform of the system. In 2012, following previous consultation, the Government commissioned a review of its proposals, and a report by Professor Andrew Coyle was published in January 2013. Following that review, the Scottish Government's proposals to abolish prison Visiting Committees (VCs) and introduce a new system of independent monitoring were published in April 2013. A proposed draft Public Services Reform (Prison Visiting Committees) (Scotland) Order was laid before the Scottish Parliament on 4 October 2013, and a revised Explanatory Document was laid in November 2013. The proposed draft Order was to: abolish Prison Visiting Committees; clarify the role of HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland (HMCIPS); and create the roles of Prison Monitor and Lay Monitor.
1.4 The Scottish Government issued a written consultation on 4th October 2013 giving stakeholders an opportunity to comment on both the proposed draft Order and the accompanying Explanatory Document. The consultation ran until the end of January 2014, and a total of 36 written responses were received. A report of the findings was published in April 2014.
1.5 In terms of the general pattern of views in the previous consultation (referred to in para 1.4 above), the consultation did not ask specific questions, but the main focus of the comments overall was upon the identification of issues or concerns and / or the identification of suggestions for further consideration in taking forward the proposed draft Order. Some of these related to: the proposed structure of the new arrangements; proposals for oversight by HMCIPS; the nature and roles of the Lay Monitors and Prison Monitors; the lack of distinction between inspection and monitoring; perceived loss of independence for Lay Monitors; costs and use of resources; the nature and effectiveness of the approach; and a lack of detail of roles.
1.6 The Scottish Government published a report in September 2014 containing their response to the issues and concerns that had been highlighted in the previous consultation, and detailing the changes to the proposed draft Order resulting from these. A further consultation document was issued on 19th September 2014 to explore stakeholder views of the revised draft Order.
The revised draft Order and further consultation
1.7 The further consultation document included details of the background and process, as well as an explanation of the key provisions of the revised draft Order. It identified the purpose of the revised draft Order as being to abolish Prison Visiting Committees, to clarify the role of the Chief Inspector, create the roles of Prison Monitoring Co-ordinators (PMCs) (formerly Prison Monitors) and Independent Prison Monitors (IPMs) (formerly Lay Monitors) and require the Chief Inspector to establish a Prison Monitoring Advisory Group (PMAG). The PMCs and IPMs would operate under the auspices of the Chief Inspector.
1.8 The document indicated that this would be done by amending the Prisons (Scotland) Act 1989 and revoking those parts of the Prisons and Young Offenders Institutions (Scotland) Rules 2011 which relate to Visiting Committees, and making other consequential amendments.
1.9 The document set out that the revised draft Order would enshrine in legislation that the purpose of independent prison monitoring is in pursuance of the objective of OPCAT (establishing a system of regular visits undertaken by international and national bodies to places where people are deprived of their liberty). A duty would also be placed on the Governor of each establishment to assist with inspection and monitoring, and on Scottish Ministers to make arrangements to ensure that the Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture (SPT) is able to access and monitor the treatment of prisoners detained in Scotland.
1.10 The document also identified that the new independent monitoring service would sit under the auspices of HMCIPS. The Chief Inspector would employ not less than three PMCs who would each oversee and support a number of IPMs. PMCs and IPMs would be assigned to specific prisons and would be representative of the local community. The Chief Inspector would oversee the independent monitoring of prisons, but the inspection and monitoring functions would operate separately.
1.11 Chapter 3 of the document provided information about the changes which had been made to the proposed draft Order following the October 2013 - January 2014 consultation. These included:
- A change of title to "The Public Services Reform (Inspection and Monitoring of Prisons) (Scotland) Order 2014".
- Insertion of a section outlining that the provisions of the Order are in pursuance of the objective of OPCAT.
- Changes to Section 7 and Sections 7A-G, relating to:
- The appointment and functions of HMCIPS.
- The appointment and functions of PMCs and IPMs.
- The duty of the Governor to assist with prison monitoring.
- The Prison Monitoring Advisory Group.
- SPT visits.
1.12 The consultation posed 9 detailed questions on some of the main changes, and provided a brief explanation at each for the reasons for the changes. The questions focused on:
- A proposed change of role titles; and the nature of the roles and functions of Independent Prison Monitors (IPMs) and Prison Monitoring Co-ordinators (PMCs) (Questions 1-4).
- Inclusion of a duty on the prison Governor to ensure provision of assistance to the Chief Inspector, IPMs and PMCs (Question 5).
- Proposed provisions for complaint-handling (Question 6).
- Provisions for the establishment and composition of a Prison Monitoring Advisory Group (Question 7).
- Inclusion of explanation of the purpose relating to the OPCAT objective and Scottish Ministers' duties in relation to SPT visits (Question 8).
- Inclusion of a transitional period of 3 months to allow work by Visiting Committees at the time the new system comes into force to be completed (Question 9).
1.13 Each of these questions contained a "closed" element inviting a "yes" or "no" response relating to agreement or disagreement with aspects of the proposed changes, as well as a request for the reasons for the answer.
1.14 An additional question (Question 10) provided an opportunity for respondents to make any further comments on the revised draft Order or Explanatory Document. The full questions and the brief explanations given for the relevant changes are provided in Annex 2.
1.15 Respondents were asked to submit their responses using a consultation questionnaire and a Respondent Information Form (RIF).
1.16 The document also provided information about the Scottish Government consultation process. Annexes provided: a copy of the revised draft Order; a copy of the revised Explanatory Document; the RIF; and the consultation questionnaire.
Submissions and respondents
1.17 Of the 29 written responses analysed, almost all (90%) followed the consultation questionnaire. As in the previous consultation, respondents have been categorised according to the general type of their organisation, or as individuals. It is recognised that, again, there are overlaps between the organisational categories, and that some subjective judgement was required. It was considered important, however, to provide an indication of the respondent types for the analysis, and the specific perspective of Visiting Committees made it important to provide a category for them. Most, but not all of the respondents had submitted a response to the previous consultation.
1.18 The table below provides an indication of the general pattern of responses to this consultation. A full list of respondents is given at Annex 1.
Table 1. Respondents by category
Criminal justice organisations
Inspection, monitoring or complaints organisations
Professional or representative organisations
Health and well-being organisations
Human rights organisations
1.19 By far the most common respondent category was "Visiting Committees" (VCs), from which 38% of all responses were received. Respondents in this category included individual VCs in Scotland and the Association of Visiting Committees (AVC). Other categories from which smaller numbers of responses were received included: local authorities; individuals; criminal justice organisations; inspection, monitoring or complaints organisations; professional or representative organisations; one organisation with a focus on health and well-being; and one human rights organisation.
Analysis of the data and presentation of the information
1.20 The analysis of the material in this consultation involved both quantitative and qualitative elements. The process included:
- Assigning an identifier code and number to each response.
- Reading all of the responses.
- Creating a series of analysis documents, with one for each question (and part of question), as well as one for any other comments. These comprised, in each case, a two column table with the respondent identifier and their response.
- Carrying out a quantitative analysis of the material provided at the closed elements of the questions.
- Carrying out detailed analysis of the material to a series of themes and sub-themes for each question, generated from the data.
- Summarising the findings and preparing this report.
1.21 Quantitative information is provided in relation to: the overall number and types of respondents to the consultation (provided in Table 1 above); and the numbers responding "yes" or "no" to the "closed" elements of Questions 1-9.
1.22 The presentation of the qualitative material highlights the themes and sub-themes identified, and the range and depth of views expressed at each question.
1.23 As in the previous report, qualitative terms are used for the presentation of the more detailed information, and it would be inappropriate to quantify this material further. Given the number of responses analysed (29), some of the specific qualitative points were made by very small numbers, or sometimes single respondents, but these have been reflected in the analysis. Additionally, as respondents were self-selecting, it would be inappropriate to generalise from the views expressed in this report to all relevant stakeholders.
1.24 While the report does not identify the type of respondent(s) raising every issue, patterns of views are highlighted by category, and some examples are given of respondents raising particular themes. Where the term "respondent" is used, this refers to one response, even where that response may represent the views of more than one contributor.
1.25 Again, as in the previous consultation report, the wording used in presenting the qualitative data sometimes follows the wording of the response closely, in order to reflect the respondent's intended messages. However, quotations have not been used, as this might imply that a particular view was being given more weight than others.
1.26 The report is not a compendium of the material submitted, but it summarises the overall themes, sub-themes and issues raised. All of the respondents agreed that their responses could be made available. The full texts of responses can be viewed on the Scottish Government website.
1.27 In the presentation of the detailed comments at each question, the material is set out using the same overall themes which emerged in each case. These were: "positive comments or benefits"; "issues or concerns"; and "suggestions or requirements". Although the relative prevalence of each of these themes varied by question, the ordering of their presentation at each question has not been varied in the report (in order to provided consistency and enable ease of reading). In each case, however, the balance of views by theme has been highlighted.
1.28 The remainder of the report presents the findings, as follows:
- Section 2 covers the findings about the titles; and the nature of the roles and functions of IPMs and PMCs in the revised draft Order (explored in Questions 1-4).
- Section 3 covers the findings about other proposed changes to processes and provisions under the revised draft Order (explored in Questions 5-9).
- Section 4 covers the findings about any other aspects of the revised draft Order and other related issues explored in Question 10.
Email: Andrew Corrigan