Calls made for landlines to be put in Scottish prison cells

Calls have been made for landline telephones to be put into prison cells as part of efforts to help with rehabilitation.

Reform Scotland, a think tank, claims maintaining close family ties can assist with cutting the risk of reoffending.

It has called for a pilot scheme to be introduced at Scottish prisons, pointing to similar initiatives south of the border as an example of where it has already been done.

Alison Payne, Reform Scotland’s research director, said: “Evidence suggests that maintaining close family ties can help prevent reoffending.

“However, due to distance or circumstance some family members will be unable to see or speak to their loved one as often as they would like, if at all.

“We know that the vast majority of offenders will be released from prison after a very short sentence and it is vital that those support networks are maintained.

“Allowing prisoners to have more regular contact to friends and family, as they do in England and Wales, can benefit not just the inmate, but their family as well.

“Tomorrow is Christmas Day. In England, many prisoners will be able to call home from their cell, speaking to their children about what Santa has brought them and maintaining a relationship for when they are released.

“In Scotland, they will not be calling home for Christmas.”

At present, Scottish prisoners can only access a telephone at certain times which are often in communal settings.

In its paper Prisons – Calling Home For Christmas, the think tank also calls for an end to sentences of less than six months.

They say such jail terms have been shown to be ineffective at promoting rehabilitation.

A Scottish Prison Service spokesman said: “Prisoners have access to pin phones to keep in contact with their family and friends.

“We don’t have any current plans to put phones in cells.”