Report finds prisons failing older inmates

Report finds prisons failing older inmates

A strategy for managing older prisoners in Scotland is “urgently required” according to a new report, which found that prisons are failing inmates with deteriorating health and mobility problems.

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland, David Strang (pictured), today publishes his report of a thematic study of the lived experience of older prisoners in Scotland’s prisons.

Mr Strang said: “The number of older prisoners in Scotland has risen significantly in recent years and will continue to do so. This report is based on the experience of prisoners over the age of 60 in prisons across Scotland. It draws on the comments of prisoners and staff about how older prisoners are treated and how they cope with imprisonment.

“It highlights the challenges of responding to the increasingly complex health and social care needs of older people in prison and emphasises their distinct needs for suitable accommodation, social contact and activities. Too many older people in our prisons are not having their needs met in a satisfactory way. The report contains distressing details of the treatment of some older prisoners, especially when they were out of prison either at court or at hospital.”

The main findings of the report are:

  • A new strategy for managing this population group is urgently required.
  • The Scottish Prison Service and the Scottish government need to agree a joint approach to the location and management of older prisoners.
  • The health and social care needs of older prisoners should determine the accommodation and activities available for them.
  • Staff working with older prisoners should be identified as suitable for the role and trained appropriately.
  • NHS Boards and local authorities have a key role to play in the care of older prisoners.
  • Older prisoners should be supported to maintain positive contact with their families.
  • HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland will continue to monitor the treatment and conditions for older prisoners across Scotland.
  • Mr Strang added: “During our research, we heard positive accounts of how some older prisoners felt well looked after by prison officers and staff who demonstrated kindness and compassion. But for many, their accommodation was unsuitable. We interviewed one man in his 70s who had to sleep on the top bunk of his bed in the cell he shared with a less able prisoner.

    “Older prisoners told us that they were not able to take part in activities because of their difficulty in walking distances. Many expressed their fears of growing old in prison and the possibility of dying alone. There is a clear need for such basics of life as suitable activities and social contact.

    “I hope that this report will lead to effective change in the treatment of older prisoners in Scotland.”

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