About the Scottish Prison Service



The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) is an Executive Agency of the Scottish Government and was first established in April 1993. Our Framework Document sets out the policy and resources framework set by Scottish Ministers within which the SPS operates. As an Executive Agency, the SPS is funded by the Scottish Government.

The SPS is responsible for those who are committed to its care by the Courts and is accountable to the Scottish Parliament for the delivery of custodial care in accord with The Prisons and Young Offenders Institutions (Scotland) Rules 2011.




Our principal objective is to contribute to making Scotland Safer and Stronger. The SPS has a duty to protect the public by keeping those who have been sentenced in safe and secure custody. Our commitment to public safety is delivered through constructive engagement with those in our care, focussing on recovery and reintegration.

As 31 March 2018, 13 prisons were directly operated by the SPS and a further two were run by private sector operators under contract to the SPS.

We directly employ around 4,500 staff and on a daily basis accommodate over 8000 individuals in our care.

We also manage the contract for the Scottish Court Custody and Prisoner Escorting Service (SCCPES), on behalf of multi-agency justice partners, for the provision of safe and secure transport of those in custody to and from courts.



National Performance Framework and Outcomes

As an Executive Agency of the Scottish Government we are committed to playing our part in the delivery of National Outcomes and strategy. Scotland’s new National Performance Framework was launched in June 2018 and comprises 11 National Outcomes and 81 National Indicators. SPS contributes both directly and indirectly to all of the National Outcomes but especially;

  • We live in communities that are inclusive, empowered, resilient and safe; and

  • We respect, protect and fulfill human rights and live free from discrimination.

Justice in Scotland; Vision and Priorities

 The national justice strategy for Scotland; Justice in Scotland; Vision and Priorities (Scottish Government, 2017) envisages a proportionate and person-centred approach to justice, focusing on prevention and protection which delivers better outcomes for individuals and communities. Prisons should be utilised to accommodate only those who have committed the most serious offences to ensure that society is protected from those who pose serious risk and only

"...where necessary to address offending or to protect public safety, focusing on recovery and reintegration."

The national justice strategy asserts the role of prisons in seeking to achieve a reduction in reoffending and in supporting those in custody in their safe reintegration back into their communities.



In contributing to the delivery of our principal objectives and national outcomes, SPS has four strategic themes and outcomes, each of which is supported by Key Success Indicators.

Strategic Themes and Outcomes August 2019



 There are several recent pieces of legislation that will impact on our services. The Scottish Government has indicated its intention to bring forward proposals to extend the presumption against short-term periods of imprisonment to include sentences of 3 months or less, to 12 months or less. The Management of Offenders (Scotland) Bill was introduced in 2018 and proposes changes to arrangements in respect of electronic monitoring. The Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 will be implemented in 2019 and this may have an impact on the number of individuals committed to custodial care.

At a UK level, welfare reform legislation has continuing implications for those in our care and for our working relationships with partners and stakeholders. There may also be implications arising from the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union.