New Model of Custody for Women


In Scotland, the report of the Commission on Women Offenders in 2012 (known as “the Angiolini Commission”), provided a catalyst for change, publishing recommendations that set the scene for system-wide reform with a focus on service re-design, alternatives to prosecution and remand, sentencing and prisons.

In early 2015, plans to build a large women’s prison in Inverclyde were reconsidered as the Scottish Government and Scottish Prison Service collaborated to rethink the approach to the custody of women. A Symposium entitled ‘From Vision to Reality – Transforming Scotland’s Care of Women in Custody’, in May 2015, provided an international perspective on best practice in all aspects of custody for women.

In July 2015, Scottish Ministers announced that Scotland would adopt a new and innovative approach for working with women in our care, with a move towards custody in the community.To realise this ambition, it was announced that a smaller national facility for women with more complex needs and risks would be built to replace HMP & YOI Cornton Vale and two new Community Custody units (CCUs) would be developed across Scotland.

Since the announcement, work has been underway in designing and developing plans for these facilities. HMP & YOI Stirling is being built on the site of the existing Cornton Vale, alongside 2 new CCUs, the Lilias Centre located in Maryhill, Glasgow and the Bella Centre in Hilltown, Dundee.

The New Model of Custody will ensure there are opportunities for women to express and explore the life circumstances and/or choices which have led them to be in custody and will provide a range of evidence based interventions aimed at maximising the opportunity for reflection, reparation and rehabilitation. 

In order to achieve this, the SPS, together with key Stakeholders and partners, has re-designed the custodial arrangements for women to ensure both the physical environment and available services are gender specific and trauma informed, meeting the needs of the women in our care. An important element of this will be creating an environment and conditions which are based on safety, respect and dignity.