COVID-19 Announcement

The safety and wellneing of those living and working in our prisons is a priority for the Scottish Prison Service (SPS). We are working with the Scottish Government, Health Protection Scotland, our NHS colleagues and a range of other partners on a daily basis to mangage the unprecedented challenges we are all now facing.

The SPS has robust pandemic plans in place which are implemented on a phased basis in response to escalation demands. We continue to follow the advice from the Chief Medical Officer, which means that anyone in our care who displays symptoms of the virus will be asked to self-isolate, as well as those how may have been in contact with that individual.

As at 04/04/20, we have 61 individuals across 7 establishments who are self-isolating.

 

 

Update 01/04/20 - New online facility to transfer money to those in our care 

COVID-19 is impacting on all areas of life including those we care for in prisons and their families. Due to the restrictions introduced by the government about non-essential travel, you can no longer hand in money or property at establishments.

We recognise the difficulty that this causes many families and we have been quickly working on introducing a process where money can be transferred to those in our care electronically.

From today, the SPS can now accept money for prisoners transferred via an online banking facility, set up to support those in custody during the COVID 19 outbreak. This will provide a safe way of sending money to friends and family.

For more information and instructions on how to use this facility, please click on the link below.

Online Banking Facility

Online Banking Facility (PDF version)

 

Update 27/03/20 - Impact of COVID - FAQ's for Families and Visitors

COVID-19 is impacting on all areas of life including those we care for in prisons and their families. We have compilied answers to frequently asked questions which we hope you will find useful.Please click on the link below. These will be regularly updated to reflect the current situation.

Families and Visitors Q&A

Families and Visitors Q&A (PDF Version)

 

 

Update 25/03/20 - Introduction of COVID-19 Family Support Helpline

A new family helpline will be available to provide support and advice to families of those in our care from Thursday 26 March. Families can call 0131 330 3888. This service will be available Monday- Friday, 9am to 3pm.  As this is a new service, these hours will be kept under review and may be changed to reflect demand. 

Please note that we are unable to discuss the detail of personal issues relating to individuals in our care. Your main point of contact should still be direct to establishments; however should you have specific worries about a relative in prison and are experiencing difficulties in making contact with the establishment, our staff will ensure that your concerns are passed on.

Update - 24/03 - Victim Notification Scheme - Introduction of a Reduced Scheme

SPS staff who manage the Victim Notification Scheme (VNS), in line with government advice, are currently working remotely due to the current position with Covid 19.  This means that we will need to change how we communicate with those currently registered on the scheme.  From today we will no longer be able to provide you with any information via letter.  Instead where we need to provide you with information we will contact you via phone or email. Over the coming weeks it is unlikely that we will be able to register any new victims.  You can however still apply to join the scheme, but it may be some weeks before we can process your application.  We understand this may be a very difficult time for you and you may feel that you need some support during this time. Please contact Victim Support Scotland on 0800 160 1985 (Weekdays 08:00 to 20:00) or visit the website at:https://victimsupport.scot/

Update 23/03/20 - Suspension of Visits

COVID-19 is impacting all areas of life, including here in the prison estate. We have been considering all the necessary steps that we could take to reduce the risk of the virus spreading and difficult decisions have had to be made to protect the health of those living and working in our prisons. The Scottish Prison Service has today taken the difficult decision to suspend visits across our estate.

 The situation is changing fast. In response to the rising concern from those in custody and from staff about visits, together with the reducing number of people attending visits and with Public Health advice to stay at home, we feel this is the right thing to due to reduce the risk of the virus spreading.

 This decision will come into effect from Tuesday 24 March 2020 across all establishments.   Critical agent visits will continue to be facilitated, however, with the reduction in court business, it is anticipated that these types of visits will reduce.

 We are quickly working to look at ways in which we can support and maintain family relationships during this time.

 This is also an anxious time for all living and working in our prisons. The situation is changing fast and we would like to assure you that we are working tirelessly to prepare for, and respond to the challenges we all face.

 

How we are supporting those in our care and their visitors?

 We are in regular communication with those in our care and continue to provide advice, guidance and support. Those in custody are aware that there may be changes which will impact on their usual daily routine. Some of these changes may be as a result of decisions outwith our control. We will attempt to keep everyone informed before any chnges take place, however, given how fast things are changing, this may not always be possible.

We understand that everyone is concerned about the situation and can assure you that, where possible, we will continue to operate normal regimes, with the minimum disruption, for as long as we can.

 

COVID-19 What does this mean for staff?

 As  a critical public service, the continuation of our day to day operations is imperative. The Scottish Government has confirmed prison staff as key workers, recognising the important role that you all play in keeping our country safe.

Unlike many other organisations who can potentially close their business, or make arrangements for all staff to work from home, this is not the case for those of us working for SPS, whether that’s in our prisons, our headquarters, our college or in central stores. To meet the challenges that we will undoubtedly face over the next few months we’ll all have to have patience and understanding; and be ready to work flexibly to support each other and ensure business continuity.

A dedicated COVID-19 SharePoint site has been set up where staff can find further advice, guidance and an FAQ section. We will also put additional informaiton on this page so staff can access information remotely.

 

What do I do if I suspect that I have Coronavirus?

The situation is evolving and employees are advised to follow current Government and NHS advice which can be accessed from NHS Inform. This website also contains a guide on what to do if you are displaying symptoms or worried about Coronavirus (Covid 19). Current advice at the time of publication is if you live alone and you have symptoms of coronavirus illness (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms started.

If you think you have Coronavirus, you must not attend any SPS premises. You should report your absence using the normal absence reporting procedure and you should follow any medical advice given. In addition, if you don't have symptoms and are looking for general information, a free helpline has been set up on 0800 028 2816. The helpline is open every day from 8.00am to 10.00pm.

 

Childcare for Key Workers

Many of you will have concerns over childcare given the announcement to close schools and nurseries and we want to assure you that we are working closely with the Scottish Government on the options they are developing to ensure our staff are included. Given the constant changing environment, it may be advisable to check for updates with your local councils via their websites or social media outlets. The SPS fully appreciates the efforts you are making in balancing your work and family commitments and we will be as flexible as possible with working days and times to support staff to remain at work during this time.