Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court: Prisoner conditions get thumbs up from inspectors

Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court.
Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court.

Inspectors have given the custody unit at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court a light sentence.

Overall, the unit was given the thumbs up, with the professionalism of staff in particular being praised.

However, there were areas of concern, such as prisoners being moved through public areas on their way to court.

Toilet facilities and provision made for disabled and wheelchair-bound prisoners were also recommended for improvements.

The Court Custody Unit (CCU) is where prisoners are held while they wait for their court appearance after being transferred from prison or police stations.

HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland carried out the inspection in August.

Inspectors found it to be “a well-run facility with staff that were clearly well-motivated, well-led and working well as a team.”

It was noted that there were blind spots in a number of the holding areas, which with no CCTV coverage, meant individuals could be out of view of CCU staff. The report recommended this be addressed with some urgency.

The movement of prisoners from the CCU to each of the four courtrooms involved them being taken through public areas. Inspectors accompanied a prisoner on this journey and noted that they passed a number of people in different parts of the public corridor, including a lone witness in the court waiting room. The report noted that the prisoner became unruly and started to shout and swear and bang on the cell doors, which could have been highly intimidating for the witness waiting next door.

Inspectors found there was a good relationship between CCU staff and prisoners –”CCU staff clearly knew some prisoners from previous occasions and the dialogue between them reflected this,” the report noted.

The inspectorate recommended privacy arrangements for using the toilet facilities be reviewed to ensure they were adequate to maintain personal dignity whilst providing the necessary level of security.

The disabled access and toilet facilities gave cause for concern and needed updated with some urgency. The inspectorate said it was concerning that a disabled prisoner needed to access a public area, significantly affecting the safety and security for all concerned.

It also exposes the prisoner to a degree of public access that was inappropriate.