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Prisoners (Visits)

Volume 114: debated on Thursday 9 April 1987

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will set out the rights of prisoners serving long-term sentences in Scottish prisons in terms of visits from family and friends.

The Prisons (Scotland) Standing Orders specify a minimum visit entitlement of two 30-miniute visits every calendar month for sentenced prisoners. Up to three visitors may be present at any one visit. Long-term prisoners may also be transferred to a more convenient prison temporarily in order to receive accumulated visits.Details of these entitlements are set out in Standing Order M. The minimum entitlement to visits was increased to the current level in 1984. Copies of Standing Order M are available to inmates in all penal establishments.The frequency and length of visits may exceed the minimum entitlement where facilities and demand for visits at a particular establishment permit.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will set out the rules governing the issue of passes to families and friends of prisoners to allow visits to be made; and if. in particular, he will explain who is entitled to such a pass, what expenses are covered and how often one individual applicant can obtain such a pass.

The family and friends of a convicted prisoner require visiting orders in order to be admitted to a penal establishment to make a visit. Each visiting order may admit up to three people.Financial assistance for fares and, where necessary, the cost of overnight accommodation and meals, for visits to prisoners may be provided under the prisons assisted visits scheme. The scheme is administered in Scotland by local social security offices on behalf of the Scottish Home and Health Department. Spouses and other close relatives may be granted assistance for up to 13 visits each year, provided they are receiving supplementary benefit (or, otherwise are in receipt of low income and not in full-time work), and wish to visit a convicted prisoner who is serving a sentence of more than three months or an unconvicted prisoner who has been in custody four weeks or longer. (The same prisons assisted visits scheme operates in England and Wales.)