Prisons watchdog criticises undignified treatment of prisoners brought to court in Edinburgh

Prisons watchdog criticises undignified treatment of prisoners brought to court in Edinburgh

The prisons watchdog has criticised Police Scotland over bringing prisoners to court dressed only in their underwear or pyjamas, saying it stripped them of “human dignity”.

In a new report, HM Inspectorate of Prisons in Scotland (HMIPS) said the practice came to light during a routine visit to Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

Prisoners were observed being escorted from vans in their pyjamas, while one was only in underwear and another was barefoot during an inspection on June 30 this year.

The Edinburgh Court Custody Unit was otherwise said to be well-run with motivated and well-led staff.

The report said: “Police Scotland should ensure those arriving from police custody are appropriately dressed for the journey and their subsequent court appearance.

“It was concerning to observe prisoners being removed from escort vans in their nightclothes and one prisoner appeared to be in his underwear and one prisoner had no footwear.

“It is unacceptable that individuals are expected to appear in a court of law in their underwear or nightclothes.”

Pete White, chief executive at Positive Prison? Positive Futures, told The Herald: “This is wholly unacceptable and possibly a violation of human rights.

“Even though they are prisoners they have the right to some form of human dignity and respect.

“Surely there must be a way that some form of clothing could be found for them before they are brought into court?”

Dr Louise Brangan, policy and public affairs manager at the Howard League Scotland, added: “All sites of detention in Scotland must protect people who are confined from degrading treatment.

“It is not acceptable that anyone held in police custody is brought to court without any decent clothing, this is a humiliating indignity, and one that is surely avoidable.”

Chief Superintendent Garry Mcewan said: “We note the report published by HMIPS today and are keen to work with our partners on the recommendations.

“Police Scotland ensure all those in Police Custody are treated with dignity and respect.

“Alternative footwear and clothing is stocked in all primary suites and where practical is offered. All relevant health information is recorded as part of the Personal Escort Record that remains with the prisoner when they are transferred in the custody of G4S.”

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