THOSE in a young offender’s institute in Scotland could have phones installed in their cells.

Justice secretary Humza Yousaf MSP recently announced that there will be a pilot of in-cell phones at Polmont Young Offenders’ Institution.

Currently, Scottish prisoners can only access a telephone at certain times, and often in communal settings, whereas in England and Wales, a number of prisons have landline phones in cells to allow prisoners to contact their family more frequently and in private.

Due to the success of this scheme, the UK Government announced plans to spend £10m rolling out installation of in-cell phones into more prisons in December.

Reform Scotland has previously called on the Scottish Government to allow the policy to be piloted in Scotland, believing that without it the chance of a seamless reintroduction to family life after the end of a short-term sentence would be minimised.

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Supplementing the Reform Scotland campaign, earlier this month, Wendy Sinclair-Gieben, Scotland’s chief inspector of prisons recommended the introduction of phones in cells to Polmont Young Offenders’ Institution.

Alison Payne, Reform Scotland’s research director, said: “Humza Yousaf deserves great credit for putting us on a path to the right policy.

“The vast majority of people sent to prison last year served a sentence of less than three months. Such a short sentence means that there is little or no opportunity to take part in rehabilitation or training programmes. However, evidence shows that maintaining family links, where appropriate, can reduce reoffending.

“Evidence from elsewhere has shown that in-cell phones not only help contribute towards rehabilitation, but they have also had a positive impact on addressing prison safety and reducing self-harm.

“The Scottish Government’s announcement will help to reduce reoffending, reintroduce short-term prisoners into life and work, and keep family networks strong. The pilot is a good first step and we hope eventually landline phones in prison cells will be rolled out into other prisons in Scotland, just as they have in England and Wales.”