Key achievements over last five years
In 2015, the Cabinet Secretary for Justice announced progressive plans to transform the female custodial estate to address the specific needs of women, creating gender specific, trauma-informed settings where all who work, live and visit prison, feel safe, respected and valued. Construction is ongoing on the Women's National Facility in Stirling and two Community Custody Units, one in Glasgow and one in Dundee.
The new Inverness Justice Centre opened in March 2020. The centre has a range of organisations providing integrated justice services under one roof such as the Inverness Sheriff and Justice of the Peace Court, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, Highland Council's Criminal Justice Social Work and Police Scotland. The centre also has specially designed facilities for children and vulnerable witnesses.
The Home Office launched the Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme (ESMCP) in 2016 to replace the 3 Emergency Service's (police, fire and ambulance) telecoms with a new Emergency Services Network (ESN). The Scottish Government is a sponsor body for the programme, providing a share of funding towards its development and engaging with the Home Office and the emergency services in Scotland to ensure that it is fit for purpose. We have also directly funded work for independent coverage assurance which aims to undertake coverage testing and gain experience of coverage levels provided by ESN and report findings that will ensure the new network can be further enhanced (as required) to meet the requirements for critical communications by emergency first responders across Scotland's unique geography.
Police Scotland continues to make good progress on a number of ICT projects, which are key to delivering on its Digital, Data and ICT (DDICT) Strategy. Early work to modernise key platform technology has resulted in the delivery of a new national network and national IT domain for Police Scotland, updating and modernising legacy systems. A key project delivered in 2019-20 was the roll out of mobile devices to 10,000 frontline officers, alongside investment in Police Scotland's core operating systems programme.
Progress in 2020-21
Transforming Scotland's Care of Women in Custody - The Women's National Facility, which is currently under construction at existing Cornton Vale site. This is a new 80-place facility, which includes admissions Assessment Centre for an additional 24 women. The new facility is intended for women with potentially higher security requirements or more complex needs. Work commenced in February 2020 but was suspended for 3 months due to COVID-19. The main phase of construction is programmed to be completed in the spring of 2022 with an estimated operational date of May 2022. Two Community Custody Units, one in Glasgow and one in Dundee are also currently under construction and are estimated to be operational by spring/summer 2022.
Work is also progressing on HMP Highland, the replacement for HMP Inverness. A site at Inverness Retail and Business Park on the east side of Inverness has been purchased. Early procurement activity is underway and the tendering process is due to commence spring 2021. Enabling construction work is estimated to start autumn 2021. The operational date for HMP Highland is estimated for February 2024.
Following an extensive search and negotiation period, the acquisition of the site for the replacement for HMP Barlinnie near Provanmill in Glasgow, is now complete. Construction work on the new HMP Glasgow is currently scheduled to commence autumn 2023 and is estimated to be delivered in 2026.
Given the significant financial and operational pressures, alongside other prison investment priorities, it is unlikely that the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) will be able to commence work at the site for HMP Greenock before 2025-26. SPS have already made significant investment in the site and they remain committed to the replacement prison.
A Home Office-led Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme (ESMCP) is progressing the introduction of the Emergency Services Network (ESN) that aims to move the emergency services across Great Britain from their existing critical voice communication system – known as Airwave. Recently, the programme underwent a re-set following a review that considered a range of options, including cancellation, concluding ESMCP was still the right strategic solution and recommended the programme should continue. A refreshed Home Office Full Business Case (FBC) outlines the accepted recommendations from the re-set process and Scottish Government continue to work collaboratively with the three emergency services (Police, Fire & Ambulance) in Scotland to assess ESMCP's technical capability, affordability and the wider community benefits it will offer. The completed FBC will require re-approval through our governance processes which will be completed during 2021. Going forward, Scottish Government will work alongside Home Office and partners to continue assisting in the development of ESN sites to enable greater connection throughout Scotland.
Activity going forward
Progress the work on the replacement prisons for HMP Inverness and HMP Barlinnie, with construction work scheduled to begin autumn 2021 and 2023 respectively, representing an estimated total investment of around £500 million. Complete our £98 million investment in the construction of the new innovative female custodial estate, including a new national facility and two Community Custody Units in Dundee and Glasgow, tailored to the specific needs of women. The majority of this work is scheduled to be delivered over the course of 2022.
Continue to work collaboratively with the three emergency services (Police, Fire & Ambulance) in Scotland alongside Home Office and partners to continue assisting in the development of ESN sites to enable greater connection throughout Scotland.
Continue to support Police Scotland's innovative programme to transition to a sustainable ultra-low emission vehicle (ULEV) fleet to meet its vision of having the UK's first ultra-low emission blue light fleet by 2030.
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