Third sector and prison service provide family visiting centres in Scottish prisons
Funding has been put to use to create family visiting centres in Scottish jails.
For the first time ever, voluntary organisations and the Scottish Prison Service got together recently to hear how facilities which allow those incarcerated to stay in touch with their families can reduce reoffending rates.
The Scottish Government has provided £1.8 million of funding to create prison visitor centres.
A conference hosted by the National Prison Visitors Centre Steering Group heard how seven such facilities have now been set up.
Andy Bruce Andy Bruce, deputy director for criminal justice at the Scottish Government, revealed that information will be available in September on how organisations can bid for funding to set up new services at prisons which don’t yet have them.
Cyrenians chief executive Ewan Aitken, who chairs the steering group, said: “Families matter. People in prison who stay in contact with their families are up to six times less likely to reoffend compared to those who don't. There is a real need to support families, who after all have committed no crime, but who can face practical, emotional and financial difficulties if someone they love is serving a prison sentence.
“Prison visitors centres support families by making the visiting experience easier for them, providing them with independent and impartial advice, information and support and advocating for their needs towards the prison system.
“Where good services are in place families feel welcome, less stressed and more confident about visiting their family member in prison. They can access the support they need and, most importantly they can have improved family relationships.
“Every prison should have a visitors centre service.”