Volunteers sought for new prison scheme

HMP Grampian.
HMP Grampian.

Volunteers are being sought from across the North-east to be at the forefront of the biggest change to prison visiting in over a century.

They will be part of the new independent Prison Monitoring Scheme which will come into place later this year and will take over from the current prison visiting committees.

Under this independent monitoring service which will provide greater scrutiny of all Scotland’s prisons, the volunteers will go to prisons in their local communities on a regular basis, review the conditions and treatment of prisoners and investigate matters referred to them.

They will be able to visit the prisons at any time without prior notice during the day, evening, at weekends and occasionally at night, access any area of the facility and speak to any prisoners about any issue.

HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland, which has responsibility for supporting the scheme, is encouraging people from the north east who may be interested in becoming a volunteer at the Peterhead-based HMP Grampian to contact them.

David Strang, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland, said: “The role is challenging, yet rewarding, providing an independent viewpoint on the humane treatment and conditions for prisoners at the volunteers’ local prisoners.

“It is an unusual but very important form of voluntary work, listening to and supporting prisoners and positively impacting on their lives and their local community.”

Four full-time co-ordinators, who will manage the volunteers and the scheme on a daily basis, have been recruited.

They will help with the full initial training and provide continuing support when the scheme begins on Monday, August 31.

Once in post, volunteers are likely to commit between 14 and 22 days a year including training and meetings.

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer should contact prisonmonitoring@scotland.gsi.gov.uk or visit the HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland website: www.gov.soct/about/public-bodies/hmip.