“Sixteen and 17 year olds moving into custody are likely to be particularly troubled, disadvantaged and vulnerable. Failing to meet their needs as they move from the community to custody can lead to a lifetime of offending behaviour” (Scottish Government, 2011, p.29)
- Boys will be admitted to HMP&YOI Polmont
- Girls will be admitted to HMP & YOI Cornton Vale prior to being moved to HMYOI Polmont the next day (the main exceptions to this are those who are pregnant, remaining within the Mother and Baby Unit or mental health provision)
On arrival, Scottish Prison Service (SPS) staff should ensure the child:
- Is welcomed by prison officers who will confirm the child’s identity; issue a unique prison number; take the young person’s photograph; conduct a search of the child; determine what property they can retain; and either open a file on the prisoner records system or reactivate this if they have been in custody before
- Undergoes an initial screening process to identify immediate concerns: officers will ask questions about the child’s current situation, how they are feeling and any childcare concerns
- Is given their earliest date of liberation and the qualifying date for release on a Home Detention Curfew, if applicable
- Has their immediate medical needs (including medication, known medical conditions, mental health and any addition issues) assessed and addressed by a qualified staff nurse, which will include application of the suicide prevention strategy. Information about the Health Centre will be shared, consent to share information gained and any necessary basic care plans established. Where children or young people are serving a sentence of more than six months, they will be de-registered from their GP and registered with the Health Centre GP in custody.
- Is allocated to a residential area and be escorted there by Young Offender Institution (YOI) staff who will share information with staff in that residential area
- Has a cell-sharing risk assessment completed
- Has the First Night in Custody checklist completed and is provided with information about the YOI routine, regime and rules; how complaints and requests can be made; contact arrangements; and information on making phone calls.
The child may also be allowed to make a telephone call at the expense of the SPS.
Issues that have been highlighted will be recorded and promptly followed up.
HMIPS (2019) in the Expert Review of Mental Health in HMP&YOI Polmont highlighted the importance of proactive attention to the needs, risks and vulnerabilities of children in custody on remand and in early days of being remanded or sentenced, and the importance (and shortcomings) in communication and information sharing across justice agencies, with significant implications for the care, support and management of children entering custody.
Notification of the local authority
For all children, the SPS will notify via email the Whole System Approach Lead in the local authority where the child ordinarily resides that the child is in custody. The WSA Lead should share this information with the Lead Professional who should:
- Organise the initial custody review meeting
- Ensure information has been shared by the court and provide the CJSWRs (if not shared by the Scottish Court Service) and a Child’s Plan (where established). Any other relevant information should be shared with reference to the principle of proportionality, information sharing protocols, and statutory guidance. These documents should be submitted to the SPS secure email: email@example.com. This information will then be shared as appropriate across establishments (Polmont, Grampian and Cornton Vale) and with relevant staff within establishments (Personal Officers, First Line Managers, health etc). These should not be shared directly with Personal Officers etc. This is particularly important given the issues with information sharing and the potentially catastrophic consequences of this as highlighted by HMIPS (2019).
A child’s reception into custody may also be a frightening and concerning time for families.
Resources for this page
- The Prisons and Young Offenders Institutions (Scotland) Rules 2011
- Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014
- Families Outside
- Families Outside ‘At Court’ information for families when a relative or friend has been sent to prison
- Families Outside What to Expect when Starting a Prison Sentence Information Sheet
- Families Outside information sheets on prison visitingIntegrated Case Management Practice Guidance Manual
- KIN Vox Liminis
- Children and Young People’s Centre for Justice (CYCJ). (2019). Reviews for young people aged under 18 in custody. Glasgow: CYCJ.
- CYCJ. (2017). Health provision for young people aged under 18 in and leaving SPS custody. Glasgow: CYCJ.
- CYCJ. (2020). A Guide to Youth Justice in Scotland: Reintegration and Transitions. Glasgow: CYCJ.
- Community Justice Authorities (CJAs). (2015). Framework for the support of families affected by the Criminal Justice System. Scotland: CJAs.
- HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland. (2019a). Report on an expert review of the provision of mental health services for young people entering and in custody at HMP YOI Polmont. Edinburgh: HMIPS.
- Kotova, A. (2017). In Brief: Lost time, stigma, and adaptation: the experiences of long-term prisoners’ partners. Edinburgh: Families Outside.
- McGillivary, C. (2016). Rendering Them Visible: A Review of Progress Towards Increasing Awareness and Support of Prisoners’ Families. Edinburgh: Families Outside.
- McGinley, M. (2018). The impact of parental imprisonment: an exploration into the perspectives and experiences of children and young people affected. Edinburgh: Families Outside.
- Scottish Government. (2011). Reintegration and Transitions – Guidance for Local Authorities, Community Planning Partnerships and Service Providers. Edinburgh: Scottish Government.
- SPS. (2021). SPS Vision for Young People in Custody. Edinburgh: SPS.
- Weaver, B. and Nolan, D. (2015). Families of Prisoners: A review of the evidence. Glasgow: CYCJ