22/04/2012 Sunday Politics Scotland


Andrew Neil and Isabel Fraser with the latest political news, including an interview with the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg.

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Afternoon, folks! Welcome to the Sunday Politics.


There's a new word circulating the Westminster village these days.


It's not in the Oxford English Dictionary, it begins with O and it


means "a bit of a mess". The word is omnishambles and it was used


just the other day by Labour leader Ed Milliband to describe the


coalition government. It's not the best backdrop for the


Coalition parties as they head for elections on May 3rd. And it's a


particular headache for the Liberal Democrats, who were already


suffering in the polls. We'll be talking to Deputy Prime Minister


Nick Clegg in our Sunday Interview. His latest mission, to reform the


House of Lords, will be making the headlines tomorrow. But there won't


be Coalition consensus. We'll have the latest from the Tory


backbenches. And on Sunday Politics Scotland...


Our only women's prison is not working and should be demolished -


that's the finding of a commission set up by the Scottish Government.


I've been to Cornton Vale to speak to staff and prisoners about what


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1526 seconds


It is getting that balance right. Why are you putting up so few


candidates in the local elections? We lost a lot of councillors last


year. We took a real thumping. What we are doing is normal. We are


focusing our resources and candidates on those areas where we


are strong and can campaign well. Michael Brown, your party's biggest


ever donor, is now being extradited from the Caribbean back to this


country. He gave your party �2.4 million. He is a convicted


fraudster. You have no legal obligation to give the money back


but don't you have a moral obligation? I am very pleased he is


coming back to serve his sentence. I should stress this is something


that happened before I was even an MP. What I have been told is that


the Electoral Commission in 2009 looked at this exhaustively as far


as the receipt of the money by the Liberal Democrats from one of his


companies and they categorically concluded that the money was


received in good faith and all the controls and checks her that should


have been made were reasonably made by the Liberal Democrats at the


time. If we had been shown wanting on those counts, of course, we


should pay the money back. whether you knew or not and I


accept you did not know but you work in effect in receipt of stolen


goods. Don't you have a moral majority to hand the money back?


The money was received from a particular company... I am just


talking about the principle. If you receive money from someone and you


did so on false pretences knowingly and you did not conduct the right


checks, of course you should pay the money back. Electoral


Commission showed that it was not the case and the Liberal Democrats


were fully exonerated. They are all sorts of stories doing the rounds


in Westminster that he will stand down either before or after the


next election. Can I give you the opportunity to scotch it does today


and confirm that you will fight the 2015 election. You bet. Assuming


you hold on to your seat, if Parliament results in another hung


parliament, are you up for being Deputy Prime Minister again in a


different coalition? I will say to you now what I said for months and


months no doubt in into these with you before the last election was


that I do not think how coalitions are formed should ever be the


plaything of individual politicians. You should be driven by


instructions from the British people. At the last election, there


was only one possible combination that could have led to its stable


government. We should always do that in the future. Thank you for


being with us today. It is approaching 2:30pm.


Good afternoon and welcome to Sunday Politics Scotland. Coming up


on the programme: How can we improve the way women are treated


by the criminal justice system and stop the revolving door of


offenders going in and out of Cornton Vale? I have been here 12


years and I am still seeing some goals who are so when I first


arrived there who have still never had an adequate opportunity to


intervene effectively. And with less than two weeks until


voting in the council elections, have you made your decision? I am


here in East Renfrewshire looking at the day in a life of a local


council to find out wide your vote counts.


Cornton Vale women's prison is not fit for purpose and we are locking


up too many women who should not be there, undermining efforts to


reform those who are a risk to the public. These are the core findings


of a commission investigating women in the criminal justice system. We


will be talking to the commission chair, the former Lord Advocate


Dame Eilish Angiolini in a few minutes, but first I went to


Cornton Vale prison earlier this week to meet a group of women who


were all serving sentences of more than three years for violent crimes.


I asked them for their impressions of how the prison system works and


how a jail sentence has affected them and their families. You have


not just lost your liberation, you have lost contact with your kids,


your secure attachment to your kids has been severed. You have


committed a crime and gone to prison and they think, that set,


but it's not. It is not until you get a big sentence and a Desiree


lot of time to think -- it gives you a lot of time to think. You


take a lot of things for granted. It is getting a wake-up call.


miss your family and kids and your freedom. It is upsetting when you


see them going away. I have got nine brothers and two sisters.


would you feel if any of them ended up here? I would be very sad. It is


the loneliest place to be. They come in and go back out and


reoffend. There are no programmes. Some of the lasses are not strong


enough and commit suicide do stupid things to themselves. With the


short-term prisoners they are just in and out. People so they should


just lock them up and throw away the key. When you get out as you


expect to do shortly... I am going out to nothing. I will be homeless


when I get out of prison. No money. The rest of my family are broad and


so I have not got much support. Basically, I am on my own -- my


family are broad. Are you frightened? I am. I am going to


struggle with what has happened through my life. I am being


punished in here but I am going to punish myself for the rest of my


life for what has happened. Do you think you will be back? No chance.


Definitely not. My family is too precious to me. It has taken me to


come here to realise that. There are a lot of nice people in here.


Obviously, everybody makes mistakes in their life so you would not


think they were in for what they are in for. Sometimes you do need


to give people second chances. The commission findings released


this week are the latest in a very long line of reports and


investigations which have all recommended radical change at


Cornton Vale, much of it informed by the opinions and experiences of


the front line staff. In Cornton Vale, I sat down with the governor


of the prison, Theresa Medhurst, lead doctor Craig Sayers, chaplain


Bill Taylor and Diane Cairns, a mother and child development worker.


I began by asking about what they thought were the most common


misconceptions about women in prison. I think people are


genuinely taken aback at the kinds of lives that folk are living. I


think that is because they are preconceptions which may be are


fuelled by the media that there are goodies and baddies we are divided


along those kinds of access. From a medical point of view, do you think


the women should be here? I believe not. The ones who have short


sentences do not really achieve anything within the establishment.


We do not have time to achieve things. Potentially, it is


dangerous, to open up some of their medical issues. When you are


dealing with mothers and children, what do you think of some of the


key public misconceptions about prison life? That they get


everything handed to them on a plate and that things are easy for


them. They have now got someone else looking after their children.


A lot of these women want to look after the children. What we do like


to do that you cannot do at the moment and why can you not direct?


Probably the biggest thing is to have more of a focus on those women


in here who present the greatest risk to the public, those who are


here long term and those whose behaviour is high-risk. At the


moment, we have to spend significant periods of time


managing women in and out of custody. That is because of the


short-term nature of the population. There is very little we can do so


it is very difficult for us and if it is difficult for us, how


difficult must it be for those women? What indication does that


have won a medical basis if what you are saying is that with a lot


of these women who have severe problems you do not have time to do


anything with them? It has a significant impact. When they


arrive, we need to be consistent so we cannot treat gulls to friendly


for different postcodes in terms of medication. We have longer term


plans to help address addictions, physical health issues, mental


health issues, but week require a significant period of time to


address those to any satisfactory standard. Lots used drugs not for


enjoyment but to plant have dramatic -- traumatic past issues.


To open those can of worms and then release them to we Slater is a


dangerous thing to do. What kind of work do you do with the women and


children? We have women who have never experienced parenting


themselves so they do not know what to do with their child. That is


difficult. We have women who have had good parenting skills but have


gone off the rails for whatever reason. Things have become chaotic.


The women who have had nothing, it is about starting from the ground,


the very basics. What sort of things? They do not know basics


stuff on making up bottles, they cannot follow the instructions


because there are literary issues may be. And Parenting is such a


difficult job. No one ever actually shows us what to do. The only thing


that works is intense parenting work that we can do with families


and mothers. Given all we know about early years and their


importance, how valuable do you think this particular line of work


is in prison? Many a lot of our patients will state their


motivation to get a better life, to avoid crime, to avoid drug use, is


because of their children. They wish to regain custody of their


children. So it goes hand in hand. Confidence is a big thing? I think


very often we will find women saying things about themselves that


betrays their own self-perception which is invariably very low.


People think badly of themselves, their behaviour very often is


turned in upon themselves through self-harm and very negative


thoughts about their lives. Let alone their behaviour. People do


not have a sense of a life worth living. I think in many ways that


is what we are seeking to restore, to offer people a different self


image. If your objective is to make communities better and safer, does


this prison work? This present works in respect of -- this prison


works in respect of providing support and input and services to


those prisoners who was serving longer sentences. Because most of


them are statutory cases, they do have the support on release that


means that they are more likely to succeed. In that respect, I would


say it back Cornton Vale does work. But it does not work with the short


term and high remand population because we can offer very little to


women who are coming in here for a short period of time. If that were


taken away, where the number of prisoners on remand was reduced, if


the number of people coming in on short-term sentences was reduced,


we would be able to concentrate our efforts far more effectively to get


the women to the stage where they are confident about going back out


through those gates and have got a realistic chance of turning their


lives around when they are released. What should be the alternatives


then, do you think? alternatives should be alternatives


within the community because essentially we up -- a lot of the


problems come from the communities. We are dealing with their behaviour


is within the confines of a present but you are not dealing with the


community based problems. You can hear people saying, this is about


punishment, these people have to serve time. But in your opinion, is


it working in a punishment cents, a medical sense, in any sense at all,


for these short-term prisoners? the short-term prisoners, no. It


destabilises some of the environments that are stable. For


some it is vague brief time-out from extremely chaotic environments


outside but not enough time to change their environments. I have


been here 12 years and I am still seeing some girls who I saw when I


first arrived who on short sentences and has still never had


an adequate opportunity to intervene effectively. What do you


think about this idea that people are just swirling around the system


and not being dealt with and therefore communities are not safe


for? That is definitely what I find as well. These are the women that


will not engage with services and activities. They tend to opt out a


lot of the time because they know it is a short sentence and they


will be back out doing whatever it is they want to do. Who are the


women in here? The women in here are just women, normal women like


you and died. How many judges, sheriffs, come to Cornton Vale to


say, let me have a look at the programmes and where women are


being held and how effective your programs are? In almost three years,


I have not had any asked to come and look around. None. The effect


of that? I do not think there is an understanding of what we can do


here. I do not think there is an appreciation of the damage that can


be done by some of the short-term sentences and how that impacts on


our ability to be able to address those with the more complex needs.


Thank you. I am joined now by the QC and


former Lord Advocate, Dame Ailish Angolini who chaired the Commission


on Women Offenders. Thank you for coming in. If we start with the


premise that the objective is to cut reoffending and make


communities safer, who should be in prison and he shouldn't? Every case


differs and the individual factors are important. Human beings... One-


size-fits-all will inevitably be crude. Essentially, the interviews


which she carried out of their summarise it very neatly. It is


those who are a danger to the community, those who have committed


very serious crimes and who cannot be left safely in the community.


The difficulty is that they are a very small number of the population


currently in Cornton Vale. The very large numbers are those committing


offences which are serious and the sense that they do disturb the


community but require effective management and to be tackled in an


effective way and the sentences do not do that. They are not working.


What do you think would be more constructive? The commission report


outlines what we believe would be a radical reworking of the current


system. They are very good alternatives to custody in the


community which provide a punishment, paying back to the


community. So very often, the community can then benefit from the


work of offenders. Also, allowing people to tackle the underlying


causes of their behaviour. Many of the women in Cornton Vale have


significant mental health problems. Many of them self-harm because they


have such self-loathing and low self-esteem. Many also have


suffered sexual and physical abuse through their lives. They have had


very ghastly child puts, many of them. Many of them are victims of


crime. The idea that there's a dichotomy of those who are accused


of crime and the victims is artificial. They overlap very


We had a statement yesterday from victim Support Scotland. They say a


huge percentage of women, there is nowhere else to put them. They


support community-based programmes were those sentences of six months


or less. When we see the examples of their ligature cell in Cornton


Vale, where women and bought her who are a very high risk to


themselves are held, one would almost think that the mental health


problems of these women justify sectioning them. What sort of


people are going in there and can they be effectively treated? Where


there are very serious mental health problems, they are dealt


with effectively. But there are many women who have what would be


conditions that would be treated by primary care, through GPs or


psychologists or psychiatrists, but because of their personalities or


the chaotic nature of their lifestyles, they tend to self-


medicate with drugs and alcohol and do not go to the doctor. They


simply sometimes allow a mental health conditions to deteriorate.


There needs to be a different nature of programme towards these


women. We need to take them out of the officers and into the streets


to become Street doctors. That style of thinking also includes the


courts. How would a just as harbour or work and would it be a lot more


expensive? -- Justice hob. Over 150 different services are provided in


Cornton Vale. It is chaos for the prison trying to deal with all


these different programmes. There are different types of funding and


sometimes there are there for different times. We need a decent,


strong courts led by criminal- justice social workers who are


working collaboratively. That is not rocket science. It takes


imagination and innovation. It should not take a huge amount of


money. There are plenty of people working in silos who need to get it


together and work collectively. Thank you.


There are other options available for dealing with female offenders


who currently receive short term sentences. One such project is the


218 service in Glasgow. It works to rehabilitate prisoners and stop


them re-offending. We agreed not to fully identify the women who told


their stories to Kathy Long. For some women who have been inside


Cornton Vale, prison has never prevented them from returning to


crime. It's never did me any good or I would not be still be going in


and out. I just got a five day detox in prison. That was really


hard. 218 is an alternative to jail for those who have committed minor


offences - shoplifting, breach of the peace or failing to pay a fine.


The women here will treat their addictions. They will also attend


workshops and classes to give them skills and education. Being sent to


a place like this, you are dealing with a drug problems, defending,


dealing with everything. This is more appropriate. There is always


somebody there to talk to you. If you're having a bad day, there's


always someone there. So what is at the soft option? At 218 is a much


harder option then prison. When you explore that with a woman that is


about to come to 218, they have to do the work and do the programme. A


lot of that programmes about looking at themselves. 218 can cost


half as much as a prison sentence for the same crime. The rate of


reoffending is significantly reduced. I would not offend after


coming out of 218. There is no reason. It actually works. You feel


like a failure, but this place makes you feel like you have a


chance to get right again. Joining me in the studio is the


Conservative MSP, Margaret Mitchell. You also the convenor of the


Hollywood equal-opportunities committee when it looked as this.


You'll be basing your opinions on evidence and expert witness opinion.


All the evidence suggests that sentences of six months or less did


not work and all the expert opinion seems to say the same thing. So why


have the Tories and the Labour Party set their face against


getting good of prison sentences of six months or less.


It is very much horses-for-courses. What we discovered in the report we


did and the equal opportunities committee was that in Cornton Vale,


there were far too many people on remand, 70% of which were never


going to get a prison sentence. But time and effort, the warders, the


people who would be doing Rehabilitation, all their effort


was going on looking after these people. We heard about people who


had mental health issues. They were not being dealt with. 1% should


have been hospitalised. They're still there. Call one reason or


other, people do end up on short- term sentences in Cornton Vale. You


might look at alternatives, but when you run right of every single


alternative you can go to, then there will be, for one reason or


another, prisoners there on short- term sentences. Quite frankly,


they're getting no support, no help and no resources were given to them.


That is where we are fundamentally criticising that nothing is done


with these people. Even having someone for one month or two months,


think of the things you can do it in terms of the dressing literacy,


numeracy and sometimes, from the 218 report as well, speech and a


lack of confidence to communicate. All of these things have been known


since 2009, when be completed a report. Nothing has been done. The


political will has not been there. But the expert opinion is that you


can deal with those things, but you better to deal with them not in a


prison environment for a few months, or even in a situation where it


could be medically dangerous to try to teats -- treat them in that time


scale, but to take them into the community and a structured, long-


term programmes their. The concern would be but this is just political


posturing and lazy thinking to say that you can put these women in


prison for six months or less. How did you respond to that? We are not


saying put people in prison for less than six months. We are more


than happy to look at the alternatives. If you go back to


that 2009 report, we praise to the high heavens the work being done in


the 218 Centre in Glasgow. We pointed out that the Scottish


Government in Edinburgh would love another 218 centre. We said we


needed to redress romance. -- address a wee man. There's nothing


substantially different in that report but was known in 2009.


you create -- agree that it should increase the six months? There


should not be a presumption. We should look at each case on its own


merits. If there is any element of a potential problem to public


safety, then public safety must come first. There is no question


there. Beyond that, there is a whole list of interventions that


should be put in place and the political will has not been there


to do that. If we come back to the point about


the prison governor, where we were talking about the judges and how


they and the sheriffs had not been to Cornton Vale. What you think


about that?'s do report mentions the judiciary specifically.


It is important that the judges have confident the alternatives of


custody and that the community have that confidence as well. It is very


important that this new service that we are recommending measures


the impact and can actually demonstrate that reoffending is


reduced. Then, the community and the judges will have more


confidence. So far as the Conford - - judges are concerned, their


training requires to be supported and that the sea and visit prisons


regularly. They should be out there. They should be understanding of


what they're sending people to. They should be visiting the


community alternatives as part of their training to understand what


is available. Then, they can actually influence what is working.


These are just two of the reports - there are seven substantial ones.


You could argue that nothing has changed. What will change because


of your report? Like any report, it could gather


dust and the words on a shelf. I recommend a Cabinet Secretary to


report in six months of what he is going to do. There is a political


will and a recognition of it. This gives the politician and the


Government the tools to restructure the way this is all done.


Thank you. We did ask for the Justice


Secretary to be here, he says it is vital that we find a more effective


way to deal with women offenders and 21st century Scotland. I will


consider this report in detail before making a formal response and


summertime. And now here's the news, with


Andrew Kerr. The American tycoon Donald Trump is


due to fly in to Aberdeen Airport this afternoon. The entrepreneur is


giving evidence to a Holyrood committee on Wednesday about


renewable energy. He's objecting to a planned offshore wind development


near the site of his �1 billion golf resort in Aberdeenshire. Mr


Trump claims Scotland is committing financial suicide by creating a


windfarm landscape. Officials in the Dominican Republic


say the convicted Glasgow-born fraudster, Michael Brown, who was


once a major donor to the Liberal Democrats, is being extradited to


Britain. He's understood to be on a flight to Madrid, where he's


expected to be handed over to the British authorities.


Having enough money is not a high priority for Scots, according to


Oxfam. A poll carried out for the charity found housing and health


were more important to people. Oxfam says this suggests most Scots


want enough to provide for their families and that economic measures


like GDP are part of a failed economic model.


And now here's the weather with Another afternoon of sunshine and


showers. The best of the driest conditions will be across the Outer


Hebrides. Nearly everywhere is at risk of brain. There are cloudier


conditions across the East with lighter showers. Not feeling too


Babbs with a rise of 12 Celsius. That's the news and weather, our


next update is just after 6.30pm this evening. I'll now hand you


With the local election campaign underway, the major parties have


been voicing their concerns about low turnout. We sent Gilly


Mathieson to East Renfrewshire, one of the most politically engaged


electorates in Scotland to find out why your votes count.


I am one of a team of 34 or who looks after 475 kilometres.


I am looking out for a glittering offences.


We collect glass and waste paper for recycling.


Rhodes, community safety, waste and education are some of the policies


set at Hollywood but delivered by a local council. These final-year


students believe many voters are confused about who is responsible


for providing them. People can often get confused about


who is running for what and who is standing for what.


People don't vote in council elections because they do not


understand their own counsel's play in their area. They still think


there are decisions come from Government.


Part of their remit is to promote health. People think that is the


job of the NHS. Scotland's councils spend �18.7


billion of our money. In East Renfrewshire, almost 20% of its


budget goes on social care services like this, with 11% on the


environment and half of its budget With polling day less than two


weeks away, there are no visible signs of an election campaign in


this suburb. There is only one campaign going on and that is the


national campaign. I have not seen any campaigning and the local


elections. It is almost as if they're not here.


People are being bombarded with the media, papers, radio, television


and it is either UK or Scotland. They're missing the issues


altogether. With the independence referendum


expected in 2014, the Paul is an important test of political


strength. You have this big national campaign


with the parties trying to get on top and then small local campaigns


about small local issues. A two- speed campaign.


Whatever your reasons for voting on third May, there is a lot at stake


for the parties and for the delivery of you are local services.


Political magazine presented by Andrew Neil and Isabel Fraser.

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