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Inspectors praise custody staff at ‘well-run’ facility

A team viewed the Court Custody Unit at Aberdeen Sheriff Court in December.

Inspectors viewed the custody unit at Aberdeen Sheriff Court in December (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Inspectors viewed the custody unit at Aberdeen Sheriff Court in December (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Inspectors have praised custody staff at Aberdeen Sheriff Court but said “unhygienic” prisoner toilets require an urgent upgrade.

The custody unit is well run by motivated staff who enjoy respectful relationships with prisoners, their report states.

However cell walls and ceilings were said to be covered in graffiti while prisoner toilets were in an unhygienic state when viewed in December.

Tensions occurred when prisoners were being removed from escort vans HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland

On the day of the inspection there were 31 people in custody and only one toilet in use.

The team made 15 recommendations, including a toilet refurbishment and the greater use of video links to reduce the number of prisoners required to appear at court.

They said consideration should be given to the level of risk posed by prisoners queuing to be processed in the narrow corridor leading to the custody unit.

Wendy Sinclair-Gieben, HM chief inspector of Prisons for Scotland, said: “Inspectors found the Court Custody Unit (CCU) to be a well-run facility with staff that were clearly well motivated, well-led and working well as a team.

“Staff-prisoner relationships were decent and respectful.”

She added: “Tensions occurred when prisoners were being removed from escort vans, and the ensuing queuing in a narrow corridor added unnecessary risk to the movement of prisoners.

“The difficulties experienced in many Scottish CCUs with overcrowding, disability access and movement tensions, could be addressed through greater use of video-link courts and this should be actively considered and encouraged.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service said: “The SCTS is working in partnership with the prisoner escorting provider to drive improvement and maintain standards within the custody suites.

“Emergency cleans can be requested with a maximum two-hour response, therefore it is regrettable at the time of the inspection the toilets were found to be unhygienic.

“As with other CCUs, the Aberdeen unit is regularly repainted and we will be taking steps to remove any offensive graffiti.”

PA

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