Contract Opportunities

The purpose of this section is to provide potential suppliers with some basic details about the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) procurement policy and processes, and to outline some factors that can affect suppliers seeking to secure business from the SPS or seeking to undertake work within prison premises.

The SPS purchases a wide the range of Goods, Services and Works (construction, estate and facility maintenance) to support prison activities and operations across our various locations in Scotland.  The SPS procurement policies and procedures seek to deliver value for money for the taxpayer for all such purchases.

HM Prison Service England and Wales, and the Northern Ireland Prison Service are separate organisations and undertake their own procurement activities.  In Scotland, HMP Addiewell and HMP Kilmarnock are privately run prisons and undertake their own procurement activities.

Comments regarding SPS procurement activity should be directed in the first instance to the SPS point of contact identified in the specific Tender advertisement or, in the second instance, to the SPS Head of Procurement.

Contract opportunities whose value is greater than £20,000 are advertised by the SPS via the Public Contracts Scotland (PCS) website: as they arise.  In addition, SPS use e-Tender system Public Contracts Scotland-Tender (PCS-T): The PCS and PCS-T systems provide a secure and efficient means for buyers and suppliers to manage tender exercises online.

The SPS takes the opportunity to utilise collaborative contracts set up the Scottish Government or other public bodies. Consequently, some areas of SPS purchasing requirements may be met via these sources and not advertised.

1)   Competition

SPS procurement policy is that Goods, Services or Works should be acquired by competition wherever possible in line with government policy and the relevant legislation.

As a result of its diverse needs, procurement within SPS is divided between locally and nationally managed requirements:

  • Requirements above £20,000 and/or national requirements that affect many or all prisons are advertised on the PCS website by the Procurement, Policy & Services Department (PPSD) at SPS HQ.
  • Local requirements where there are no contracts are usually procured by staff within each prison. These tend to be relatively short-term or one-off purchases (value is typically less than £20,000).

SPS observes the requirement to advertise contract opportunities which are above the Scottish 'Regulated' public procurement thresholds in PCS.  Tenders are typically distributed and returned via the separate PCS-T website or using the 'Quick Quote' functionality in PCS.

Awards of business made by SPS are based on the principle that the Specification and the Terms & Conditions of Contract issued by SPS form the basis of the resulting contract.

SPS policy is to use relevant pan-government collaborative contracts which have been tendered and awarded for use across Scottish Government.  These are typically areas such as utilities, stationery, interim & temporary staff, IT equipment and services where the business need is relatively standardised across government.

2)   Approved or Preferred Supplier Lists

SPS does not operate or maintain an Approved or Preferred Supplier list.  All significant requirements are subject to competition (as above) and/or provided through Contracts (or Framework Agreements) which have been awarded by the SPS.

3)  Transparency

Through our procurement activity, SPS makes every effort to ensure that suppliers are very clear about our requirements and how we intend to evaluate tenders to identify the best proposal.

The tender document will set out the method of evaluation to be used. Suppliers should make sure that they fully understand the method of evaluation, the scope of requirements (specification), and should seek clarifications from SPS if any of this is unclear.

Tender documents also provide specific guidance detailing bid completion and submission procedures (including any specific information required by SPS to support tender qualification or evaluation).  Tenderers should note that missing or omitted information could lead to a poor bid evaluation score, or to your bid being eliminated

Bidders should ensure that you submit your bid by the closing date/time stated.  Use of e-tender systems such as PCS-T mean that SPS typically rejects late bids.

SPS observes a pre-contract 'standstill' period where required by the Procurement Regulations.

The SPS publishes a contracts register (>£20k in value) in PCS.  This information is accessible via the SPS profile in PCS; use the ‘Search for Buyers’ tab and type ‘Scottish Prison Service’ into the Buying Organisation field.  The 'Contracts Register' tab is then available.

4)   Security

Suppliers and prospective suppliers should be aware that a range of security considerations are of paramount importance for working within the prison environment:

  •  Persons, vehicles and goods entering the secure perimeter of a prison are subject to searching (SPS employ measures which are like airport security).
  • A range of items are explicitly prohibited from prisons e.g. Mobile phones, laptops, tablets, smart watches, personal communication devices which enable access to phone or internet networks, alcohol, weapons, cameras, drugs and smoking materials.
  • Information and signage is displayed and security staff will also ask individuals if they have any prohibited items on their person or in any vehicle seeking entry to the prison.
  • All such items must be declared to SPS and either left in lockers at the prison front of house, or in a vehicle in the public car park of the prison.
  • Work tools such as sharp or bladed tools, ladders or laptops which are necessary to perform work in a prison should be declared and specific authorisation obtained from SPS (on a case by case basis) before you seek to take such items into a prison. Where authority is provided for specific items or tools to be taken into a prison, the individual is then responsible for the security, the controlled use and the removal of the items from the prison.

If an individual is uncertain if an item is prohibited or subject to controls, they should ask SPS security staff for advice. If in doubt ASK!

  • In many cases there will be need for escorted access whilst on site;
  • The routine requirement for supplier personnel to have a Disclosure Scotland check (at the required level); and
  • SPS reserve the right to additionally undertake checks with Police Scotland to verify the supplier's non-involvement in Serious & Organised Crime (SOC). This process includes checks of persons with control over the supplier organisation e.g. Directors
  • The SPS recognises the legitimate use of vehicle on-board cameras for security & load, incident accident recording and insurance purposes. Use of vehicle on-board cameras should be declared to SPS security staff but is permissible within the secure perimeter of a prison for the intended purposes subject to the supplier ensuring effective controls of any recorded images in accordance within the General Data Protection Regulations and the provisions set out in the SPS terms and conditions. 

5)   Compliance with Regulatory Obligations

5.1   Legislation

The SPS expects suppliers and contractors to fully comply with their obligations in respect of relevant legislation, such as that Health & Safety, Equality & Diversity, GDPR, etc.

The SPS also regularly uses the standard questions from the Single Procurement Document (SPD) to verify compliance with various areas covered by legislation. Failure to meet or demonstrate compliance with legislative provisions may mean exclusion from competition or bidding for future SPS contracts.

Suppliers will also be expected to observe the rules pertaining to those entering or working within prisons either as indicated by signage or as notified to them by SPS during any pre-start meeting.

5.2   Disclosure Scotland

Bid documents usually indicate the type of Disclosure required.  For example, activities that routinely require individuals to work with prisoners and young offenders, adults at risk or children will generally require Enhanced rather than Basic Disclosure.  Disclosure Scotland checks are not required for individuals simply undertaking the infrequent delivery of goods, or attending meetings, or attending to emergency repairs of equipment (supervised by escort whilst within SPS).  You should also be aware that some offences can disqualify an individual from working within SPS premises.

Further information about Disclosure Scotland, the processes, timescales and fees associated with obtaining Disclosures are available from: Any fees charged by Disclosure Scotland are the responsibility of the individual or the contractor / supplier.

5.3   Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA)

Tenderers and suppliers should be aware that SPS is bound by the terms of FOISA.  SPS will, following request, disclose information as required to ensure compliance with the Act.

5.4 VAT Construction Reverse Charge

The SPS is an end user for the purposes of Section 55A VAT Act 1994 reverse charge for building and construction services. Any suppliers providing these services to the SPS should issue us with a normal VAT invoice, with VAT charged at the appropriate rate. The SPS will not account for the reverse charge. Further information available from: Check when you must use the VAT reverse charge for building and construction services - GOV.UK (

6) Contracting

6.1 Bound Contracts

In the majority of instances, after the tender process, SPS will expect successful supplier(s) to sign a bound contract.  This will contain the entire scope of the agreement and the conditions of contract that will apply. 

6.2 Post Contract Management

National contracts awarded by SPS are generally managed and monitored by the procurement department. Suppliers must be willing to accept and support such monitoring, for example, by providing activity and performance reporting against agreed service levels indicated in the contract.

6.3   Sustainable Procurement Duty (SPD)

The SPS seeks to ensure that its operations and delivery of public services is consistent with the Scottish Government's commitments and Statutory Guidance for procurement.  SPS tenders may therefore set out specific environmental or socio-economic factors which are relevant to the performance of the contract e.g. specific SPS objectives may include community benefits, use of Supported Businesses or SMEs within the supply chain, carbon reduction, waste minimisation, etc.

6.4 Fair Work and Living Wage.

SPS has been an Accredited Living Wage employer since 2016. As well as ensuring that SPS continues to pay its employees the current Living Wage, it will continue to ensure that its procurement activity contributes to maintaining Fair Work provisions including Living Wage for supplier staff working in SPS sites. SPS will, to the extent permitted by law include Fair Work provisions in applicable contracts.

7)   Ethics and Compliance

7.1 The Suppliers' Charter

The SPS has signed this joint statement between Public Sector Procurement and businesses to facilitate access to opportunities within public sector procurement. Our aim is to provide a fair and open approach to tendering, and to offer worthwhile feedback at the end of a procurement process.

7.2 Procurement Ethics

Staff within SPS are expected to act with integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality.  These over-arching values and standards apply to everyone in the organisations; we expect similar ethical standards from our suppliers.

SPS maintains a Whistleblowing and also a Fraud Prevention policy.  These policies enable individuals or staff to raise any issues of concern with the SPS - this includes matters relating to procurement and contracts.

If you believe that anyone within the SPS has engaged in unethical behaviour, if there is a potential conflict of interest, a concern relating to the award of a contract or to the performance of a contract, you should report this to either the SPS Head of Procurement, or to the Head of Internal Audit, at SPS Headquarters, Calton House, 5 Redheughs Rigg, Edinburgh, EH12 9HW.

7.3 Audit

The SPS, including its procurement activity, is subject to regular audit review both by the SPS internal audit team, and by Audit Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Parliament.

8)   Payment of Invoices

The SPS aim to pay invoices on time in accordance with the agreed payment terms.  SPS payment performance is monitored by SPS and the results included in the SPS annual report and accounts.

9)   Supplier Journey

The Scottish Government has produced generic guidance to inform potential suppliers about public sector procurement processes and how they can effectively engage here.  The Supplier Journey webpage is available via the following link: 

The principles in the Supplier Journey should be read in conjunction with the SPS specific information outlined above.  For example, points: (1) Competition thresholds; (4) Security; and (5.2) Disclosures which reflect that there are specific provisions relevant to engaging, and working, with SPS.

The Supplier Development Programme (SDP) provides another source of information and training for suppliers seeking to bid for public contracts. The SDP webpage is accessible via the following link:

10)   Single Point of Enquiry (SPOE)

The Scottish Government provide an independent and impartial service where suppliers to the public sector in Scotland can obtain advice or highlight any concerns about the application of the procurement rules or the management of a specific tender exercise.

Information about the role of the SPOE and how to contact it: 

11)   Privacy Notice, SPS Procurement

The Documents section in the Public Contracts Scotland website provides a copy of the above. The Privacy Notice outlines how SPS procurement manages and handles information provided by bidders as part of the procurement and contract management processes.