COVID-19 Guidance

The Scottish Prison Service provides the latest information on how they are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic including their updated pandemic plan on their website here with the answers to many frequently asked questions listed here.  Information from Sodexo regarding public health measures and visiting arrangements at HMP Addiewell is available here. Information from Serco regarding HMP Kilmarnock is available here.

For Covid-19 guidance in place when visiting a prison, please see our visiting prison page.

  • Can I still get support from Families Outside?

Families Outside support staff continue to provide support, information and advocacy to families affected by imprisonment. Our Support & Information Helpline is operating as normal and can be contacted on:

Freephone Helpline: 0800 254 0088


Webchat: on the Families Outside website  

Text: FAMOUT and your message to 60777

All platforms are monitored between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Families Outside’s Group Work and Peer Support service encourages families to work together and learn from one another’s lived experience. Sessions are continuing and are taking place on Zoom and in person where possible. Further information is available here.

Our Regional Family Support Coordinators are working within Covid-19 guidance and continue to provide one-to-one support for families in their local community, further information is available here.

  • What is the Scottish Prison Service doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect my family member’s health?

The latest information from the Scottish Prison Service on the number of people in prison who have tested positive for COVID-19 or who are self-isolating is available here.

Following the Scottish Government’s announcement on changes to self-isolation, Test and Protect will continue to work with the SPS where positive cases are confirmed.  SPS will continue to identify those who may be a close contact of a positive case in prison and pass the details to the local Health Protection Team. Where an outbreak occurs that may impact on prison visitors, SPS will continue to provide details of visitors to the local NHS Health Protection Team.

An adult who is identified as a close contact of a confirmed case will  be automatically required to self-isolate for 10 days.

It is an individual staff member’s responsibility to determine if they require to self-isolate. Where a member of staff is identified as a close contact and they advise they are not required to self-isolate, SPS do not require proof of vaccination or a PCR test result before they return to work.

NHS will hold the record of the vaccination status of those in custody and they should advise SPS where a prisoner is required to isolate because they are a close contact of a positive case. There is no requirement for SPS to know the vaccination status of prisoners.

It is recognised that there is an increased likelihood of Covid 19 transmission in a prison, compared to in the community. While physical distancing has been removed in the community, anybody living and working in a prison will still be required to maintain a distance of 1 metre from others.

In the course of their work, particularly where they cannot physically distance, a prison officer is expected to wear a Type II Fluid Repellent mask. These masks are a form of personal protective equipment and are similar to mask worn in hospitals, they provide additional protection for both the person wearing the mask and others..

  • Will my family member in prison be vaccinated against COVID 19?

Vaccines to prevent the spread of COVID 19 are being offered to those in prison. The regime for vaccinating prisoners is in line with the roll out of the vaccination for the general population to clinically vulnerable groups and then by age group. The vaccination programme in prisons is being managed by local NHS Health Boards and not by the SPS. Where uptake of vaccination is low, as in the community, health boards are taking further action to encourage people working and living in prisons to book a vaccination appointment. The latest information regarding the progress of the vaccination roll-out in Scottish prisons is available from Public Health Scotland here.

Information about the Covid 19 vaccine is available from NHS inform here.

  • What should I do if I am worried about the health and/or welfare of someone in prison?

If you have concerns about the mental health, physical health or welfare of a relative or friend in a Scottish prison, please voice your concerns to the prison. You can do this by phoning the individual prison and asking to speak to someone about concerns you have for a person in their custody. You may wish to ask to speak to the Duty Manager or Hall Manager for the relevant hall. However, any member of prison staff should be able to take note of your concerns and pass these to the appropriate staff on your behalf. Information on how to contact individual prisons is available here.

Families with concerns are advised to check the latest information on the SPS website before contacting the prison.

Families Outside Helpline staff can speak with the prison on your behalf to share your concerns, with your permission. Please call The Families Outside Support & Information Helpline on 0800 254 0088 if this is something you would like to talk to us about.

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