Scottish Prison Service

The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) (Scottish Gaelic: Seirbheis nam Prìosan Albannach) is an executive agency of the Scottish Government tasked with managing prisons and Young Offender Institutions.

Scottish Prison Service
Scottish Gaelic: Seirbheis nam Prìosan Albannach
Agency overview
TypeExecutive Agency of the Scottish Government
HeadquartersCalton House
5 Redheughs Rigg
EH12 9HW[1]
Minister responsible
Agency executive
  • Colin McConnell, Chief Executive
Scotland in the UK and Europe

The Chief Executive of the Scottish Prison Service, currently Colin McConnell, is responsible for its administration and reports to the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, who is responsible for the Scottish Prison Service within the Scottish Government.

There are fifteen prison establishments in the country, two of which are privately managed.[2] The SPS employs over 4,000 staff, with its headquarters in Calton House, located in South Gyle, Edinburgh.[3]

Prison conditions

Scottish prisons are overcrowded and prisoners spend too much time in their cells. Prisoners who should be in psychiatric hospital remain in prison. Illegal drugs get into the prisons fuelling violence between prisoners and attacks by prisoners on staff. Prisoners get too little constructive activity. Part of the reason for problems is staff shortage. The judiciary are blamed for sending too many people to prison.[4]

Key personnel

The current Chief Executive is Colin McConnell and supporting him is the SPS Board consisting of:

  • Ruth Sutherland - acting Director of Corporate Services
  • Eric Murch - Director of Corporate Change
  • Teresa Medhurst - Interim Director of Strategy & Innovation
  • Jim Kerr- Director of Operations

List of establishments

HMP Addiewell and HMP Kilmarnock are both privately managed under contract to the SPS.

Other responsibilities

Prisoner escorting

In November 2003 SPS signed a contract on behalf of Scottish Ministers for a "Prisoner Escort and Court Custody Service". This contract with Reliance Custodial Services provides for all prisoner escorting between police cells, court, prisons and hospitals as well as covering escorts from prison such as funerals, hospital appointments and community placements and also operating the court custody units. In 2012, SPS contracted this service out to G4S.

Secure hospital

Some prisoners are detained in a secure psychiatric hospital. This is run by the Scottish National Health Service rather than the SPS.

Prison aftercare

An aftercare scheme, Throughcare, has significantly cut reoffending. The scheme involves getting released prisoners a roof over their heads, sorting out their benefits and medical needs, and showing them that someone cares about them. 78% of former prisoners who received Throughcare did not return to prison over two years. Eleven Scottish prison service sites use Throughcare.[6] "The TSOs [Throughcare Support Officers] use a case management approach, working collaboratively with the prisoner, their family, statutory and third sector service partners, to discuss appropriate support provision and to develop a personalised plan to support the person during their transition from custody back in to the community."[7]

Media Coverage

The SPS has been featured in many TV shows including Prison: First & Last 24 Hours on Sky One which was broadcast between 28 October 2015 and 5 December 2016.

See also


  1. "Contact Us". Scottish Prison Service. Retrieved 6 December 2019.
  2. "About us". Scottish Prison Service. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  3. "About us: Headquarters". Scottish Prison Service. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  4. Watchdog finds 'emergency' conditions in Scottish prisons The Guardian
  5. "The State Hospital". NHS Scotland. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  6. Throughcare prison support scheme 'cuts reoffending' BBC
  7. Throughcare Support Officers in Scottish Prisons
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