Scottish Prison Service

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Scottish Prison Service
Agency overview
TypeExecutive agency of the Scottish Government
HeadquartersOne Lochside
1 Lochside Avenue
EH12 9DJ[1]
Minister responsible
Agency executive
  • Teresa Medhurst, CEO Edit this at Wikidata
Scotland in the UK and Europe

The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) (Scottish Gaelic: Seirbheis Phrìosain na h-Alba) is an executive agency of the Scottish Government tasked with managing prisons and Young Offender Institutions.

The Chief Executive of the Scottish Prison Service, currently Teresa Medhurst, 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 One Lochside, located in South Gyle, Edinburgh.[3][4]

Key personnel[edit]

The current Chief Executive is Teresa Medhurst and supporting her is the SPS Board consisting of:

  • Allister Purdie - Director of Operations (acting)
  • Caroline Johnston - Director of Corporate Services (acting)
  • Sue Brookes - Interim Director of Strategy & Engagement (acting)

List of establishments[edit]

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

Other responsibilities[edit]

Prisoner escorting[edit]

Prior to April 2004, the SPS was directly responsible for escorting convicted prisoners in Scotland, including those appealing their conviction or sentence.[5] The duties of escorting prisoners on remand and managing court custody facilities were the responsibility of the relevant local police force.[5]

In November 2003, the SPS signed a contract on behalf of the Scottish Ministers for a "Prisoner Escort and Court Custody Service".[6] This contract with Reliance Secure Task Management Ltd provided 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.[5]

In 2012, the court custody and prisoner escort service contract was taken over by G4S.[7] Geoamey currently run the service, having taken over from G4S in January 2019. The current contract is due to expire in January 2027, subject to an optional extension for a period of up to 4 years.[8]

Secure hospital[edit]

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

Prison aftercare[edit]

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.[10] "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."[11]

Media coverage[edit]

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[edit]


  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. ^ a b c "Scottish Prison Service Contract for the provision of prisoner escort and court custody services" (PDF). Audit Scotland. 11 October 2004. Retrieved 13 August 2023.
  6. ^ "Contract between The Scottish Ministers and Reliance Secure Task Management Ltd for the Provision of Prisoner Escort & Court Custody Services in Scotland" (PDF). Scottish Prison Service. 3 November 2003. Retrieved 13 August 2023.
  7. ^ Shaw, John (19 June 2015). "Scottish prisoner escorting" (Press release). London: G4S Ltd. Retrieved 13 August 2023.
  8. ^ "Contract between Scottish Ministers and Geoamey PECS Ltd for the Scottish Court Custody and Prisoner Escort Service" (PDF). Scottish Prison Service. 1 November 2018. Retrieved 13 August 2023.
  9. ^ "The State Hospital". NHS Scotland. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  10. ^ Throughcare prison support scheme 'cuts reoffending' BBC
  11. ^ Throughcare Support Officers in Scottish Prisons

External links[edit]