“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)
- Young men will be admitted to HMYOI Polmont
- Young women will be admitted to HMP & YOI Cornton Vale prior to being moved to HMYOI Polmont the next day (the only exceptions to this are those remaining within the Mother and Baby Unit or mental health provision)
On arrival, Scottish Prison Service (SPS) staff should ensure the child or young person:
- Is met by prison officers who will confirm the child or young person’s identity; issue a unique prison number; take the young person’s photograph; conduct a search of the child or young person; 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 or young person’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, low mood/anxiety and addictions) 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 which will include the basic routine for that evening
- Is provided with information including about the YOI routine, regime and rules; how complaints and requests can be made; contact arrangements; and information on making phone calls.
The child or young person 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.
Notification of the local authority
For children and young people aged under 18, the SPS will notify via email the Whole System Approach Lead in the local authority where the young person ordinarily resides that the child or young person 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 Child's Plan on the day of admission
- Any other relevant information should be shared with reference to the principle of proportionality, information sharing protocols, and statutory guidance. This can be via Childsplan@sps.pnn.gov.uk which HMYOI Polmont Unit Managers can access and will disseminate information to other establishments, as necessary. SPS should share any relevant information with health centre staff.
A child or young person’s reception into custody may also be a frightening and concerning time for families.
Resources for this page
- 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 visiting
- Integrated Case Management Practice Guidance Manual
- The Prisons and Young Offenders Institutions (Scotland) Rules 2011
- KIN Vox Liminis
- CYCJ. (2016). 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.
- Centre for Youth & Criminal Justice (CYCJ). (2019). A Guide to Youth Justice in Scotland: Reintegration and Transitions: Youth justice practice at the interface of the Children’s Hearings System and the Criminal Justice System. Glasgow: CYCJ.
- Community Justice Authorities (CJAs). (2015). Framework for the support of families affected by the Criminal Justice System. Scotland: CJAs.
- 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.
- Weaver, B. and Nolan, D. (2015). Families of Prisoners: A review of the evidence. Glasgow: CYCJ.