Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service statement on prisoner escort services

Aug 31, 2023

The ongoing GEOAmey staffing shortages are having a significant impact on the operation of all courts across Scotland.  The late arrival of custodies and delays in bringing custodies from cell areas to court rooms are now being compounded by similar delays in bringing the accused from prisons to court hearings. This is leading to the cancellation of hearings, trial delays and courts sitting into the evening.

All of this is having a significant impact on the running of our criminal courts and the recovery programme, including the planned reinstatement of sheriff and jury trials to the island courts. In addition to the impact on court business we are equally concerned about the wellbeing of all staff working in courts, witnesses, the judiciary, legal professionals and the accused.

Whilst we acknowledge the efforts being made by the Scottish Prison Service, who manage the prisoner escort contract, the Scottish Government and GEOAmey, further steps are required to improve the situation.

Consequently, we are urgently assessing options and working with the Scottish Government and justice organisations to help alleviate this critical situation, including accelerating the use of virtual custodies to reduce the movement of those in custody.

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