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HMP BARLINNIE Prison Regime Info


81 Lee Avenue Riddrie Glasgow G33 2QX

Phone No.

0141 770 2000

Governor / Director

Ian Whitehead





Operational Capacity


Cell Occupancy


Listener Scheme


First Night Centre


Visitor Info Page

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Barlinnie is Scotland's largest, most complex penal establishment and holds all categories of prisoners. However, its main purpose is to hold remand and short term prisoners sent by the West of Scotland courts. We also hold a significant number of long term prisoners who have just been sentenced, are awaiting transfer to another establishment or are here for a specific management reason. It also has a facility that holds protection prisoners and sex offenders who are separate from the main population.


SPS say;

'Barlinnie Prison is situated on the outskirts of Glasgow but still close to the busiest courts in Scotland and close to population centres and public transport routes that allow ease of access for family visits.

Barlinnie is Scotland's largest, most complex penal establishment and holds all categories of prisoners. However, its main purpose is to hold remand and short term prisoners sent by the West of Scotland courts. We also hold a significant number of long term prisoners who have just been sentenced, are awaiting transfer to another establishment or are here for a specific management reason.

Barlinnie also has a facility that holds protection prisoners and sex offenders who are separate from the main population. The segregation unit is available for both local prisoners and national prisoners from other establishments for a variety of management reasons.'


  • Television (50p per week)

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Mon: 06:45
Tue: 06:45
Wed: 06:45
Thu: 06:45
Fri: 06:45
Sat: 08:30
Sun: 08:30


Exercise of 1 hour a day

Minimum Association of 90 minutes a day

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Sports available include;

  • Badminton
  • Basketball
  • Circuit Training
  • Indoor Bowls
  • Light Circuit Training
  • Soccer
  • Soft Tennis
  • Sports Field
  • Weight Training
  • Volleyball

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Library open during core day.

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Full-time Church of Scotland Chaplain. Part-time Catholic and Muslim Chaplains. Visiting Anglican, Buddhist and Free Church Chaplains.

Facilities are provided for prisoners to practice any other faith.


The Chaplaincy in Scottish Prisons
The key aims of the Scottish Prison Service are the custody of prisoners, their good order, their care, and opportunities to equip them for life after liberation. Chaplains contribute most obviously to the pastoral care of prisoners and, if prisoners respond positively to the care and opportunities offered, it follows that good order is likely and the experience of custody can lead to positive outcomes. Chaplains therefore contribute to the attainment of SPS aims. Care is not limited to prisoners, but is also available to staff.

Prison chaplains are part of a care team with prison officers, doctors, psychologists, mental health nurses, social workers, prison managers and other specialists. Chaplains are able to take a holistic approach towards prisoners and their relationships. They are also thoroughly ecumenical within the Christian faith and willing to work closely with prisoners and leaders of other faiths. In Residential and Industrial areas, Links Centres, Visit Rooms, Libraries and Learning Centres Chaplains are welcome as a comforting and encouraging presence.

Much work is done to help prisoners find sound reasons for self respect and hope. A chaplain may spend a few minutes or several hours with a prisoner on remand or when newly convicted, when self-esteem is at its least and fear and risk of self-harm are at their peak. Time is also given when prisoners suffer bereavement or have difficulty coming to terms with the many losses associated with imprisonment. This seldom begins in a formal setting and often arises through relationships developed out of casual contacts in corridors, workshops, classrooms and halls.

Links are fostered with families and churches, if a prisoner agrees, to build a foundation of relationships and care during a sentence and beyond liberation. Many churches are willing to make unconditional offers of care - for example, gathering presents at Christmas to be distributed to prisoners' families. This helps reduce their feelings of isolation and rejection.

Click Here for more information about the Chaplaincy in Scottish prisons


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Visiting Specialists

Dentist Availability: Yes - Frequency not disclosed
Optician Availability: Yes - Frequency not disclosed
Physio Availability: Yes - Outside hospital
Podiatry Availability: Yes - Frequency not disclosed
Stop Smoking Availability : Yes - Frequency not disclosed


Nearest Hospitals

Parkhead Hospital
81 Salamanca Street, Glasgow G31 5ES
0141 211 8300
2 km

Glasgow Royal Infirmary
84 Castle Street, Glasgow G4 0SF
0141 211 4000
3.4 km

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Classes available include;

  • Art
  • Basic Education
  • Computer Studies
  • Crafts
  • Creative Writing
  • English
  • Key Skills
  • Maths

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Employment and workshops include;

  • Bike Repairs
  • Bricklaying
  • Catering
  • Gardening
  • Hairdressing
  • Horticulture
  • Industrial Cleaning
  • Joinery
  • Laundry
  • Plastering
  • Plumbing
  • Recycling
  • Roofing
  • Sports Studies
  • Textiles
  • Welding & Metal Fabrication


Current Wages

Employed: £4.80 - £12.00
Education: £1.20 added to normal wage
Retired: £4.80
Long term sick: £4.80



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  • Alcohol Awareness
  • CARE
  • Constructs
  • First Steps
  • Positive Relationships
  • SROB (Substance Related Offending Behaviour)
  • STOP

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Help Available

Job Club

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UK Parliamentary Information

CONSTITUENCY: Glasgow North East

MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: Willie Bain (Labour)

Prisoners may write to either their ‘Home MP’ or the MP in whose constituency their current prison lies.
The address to write to is:
House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA

Scottish Parliament

CONSTITUENCY: Glasgow Provan

REGION: Glasgow

CONSTITUENCY MSP: Paul Martin (Scottish Labour)

The address of the Scottish Parliament is:
The Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh EH99 1SP



This service operates at this prison. Email a Prisoner enables you to send messages to prisoners, in the UK and Irish prisons that operate the service, from any computer, without any of the hassles of writing and posting a letter, and it costs less than a second class stamp!

Your message is delivered to the prison within seconds so that it can be delivered to the prisoner by the prison staff in the next delivery.

It is free to sign up to Email a Prisoner and only takes a few seconds - all you need is an email address (EMaP can help you if you don't have an email address).

Once a member you will be able to send a message to any prisoner in the UK or Ireland, provided you know their prisoner number, from just 25 pence per message.

Click Here for link to Email a Prisoner website


Last Inspection by HMIP: August 2006 (Full Inspection)

They said:
“Barlinnie numbers are very high. One Scottish prisoner in every five is held there. At the time of inspection there were 1430 prisoners living in Barlinnie. At the time of the last full inspection three years ago there were 1129, although there are 178 more cells now than there were in 2003. There are nearly twice as many prisoners in Barlinnie as there are in any other Scottish prison. Indeed, Barlinnie alone holds as many prisoners as the six smallest prisons in the country.

“Overcrowding is not the same issue as high numbers, but they are often connected, and they are connected in Barlinnie. The design capacity is 1018, which means that the prison is regularly 40% overcrowded. The effects of this overcrowding were obvious throughout the inspection: for example, most prisoners do not have single cells, staff do not have the time they need to spend with individual prisoners, and prisoners spend too long locked in their cells. HMCIP Annual Report 2005-2006 lists nine evils of overcrowding - Barlinnie provides illustrations of many of them.

“There is a link between the high numbers in Barlinnie and the rebuilding programme being carried out in other Scottish prisons, particularly in Perth. Barlinnie makes it possible for rebuilding to take place by providing room for the prisoners who need to be moved before the rebuilding can begin. It is very good that poor accommodation is being replaced with good accommodation, but it comes at a cost.

“Within the high numbers are three particular groups of prisoners which should be considered.

i) At the time of the inspection there were 460 prisoners on remand, which is nearly one third of the prisoner population.

ii) Over the past few years an average of 7000 prisoners per year were admitted to Barlinnie.

iii) There were more than 150 prisoners serving sentences for the non-payment of fines of less than £300 at the time of inspection, ie over 10%.

These are discussed below.

“Perhaps remand prisoners in Barlinnie suffer most from the high numbers and the overcrowding. They certainly had the most negative view of the prison among all prisoners interviewed. In general, they spend the longest time in cell, they have the least to do out of cell, they describe the least good relationships with staff, they have very little access to addiction support, and they have not benefited from the very significant improvement in the quality of food which a change in the method of serving has produced in almost every other part of the prison. In 1999 the then HMCIP published a report on conditions for remand prisoners Punishment First - Verdict Later? The title is still relevant. At the time of that report over 45% of remand prisoners did not subsequently receive a custodial sentence.

“An average of 7000 admissions each year means an average of 135 in a week. Most of these come in to the prison on a Monday night. During the inspection 120 prisoners were admitted on a Monday. The report recognises the good work done in the Reception (although the holding cubicles are still in use and the conditions of the building are not fit for purpose) and in the First Night Centre. But the pressures on staff and the pressures on prisoners resulting from that scale of admissions (with procedures often extending until 11.00 p.m.) are bad for everyone.

“It is not in keeping with the Criminal Justice Plan published by the Scottish Executive in 2004 that there should be well over one hundred prisoners in Barlinnie convicted for non-payment of fines of less than £300. The Plan states Given the growing concern about the use of short term sentences for petty and repeat offenders, we will take a more imaginative approach to addressing the problem of short prison sentences, by combining community and custodial sentences. The cost of a prison sentence for these fine defaulters is far in excess of the amount of the unpaid fine.

“The last full inspection report on Barlinnie (2003) began "Barlinnie is changing, but Barlinnie has not yet changed enough". By 2006 it has changed a great deal more. The most obvious changes are the refurbishment of the halls and the end of slopping out. The living conditions for prisoners and the working conditions for prison staff are very much better. The Governor spoke of the "significant, positive influence on all other aspects of the prison". A representative of the POA(S) said during the inspection "the prison has made a gigantic leap". Prisoners regularly told inspectors "this place is much better than it used to be".

“Of course they were speaking about decent toilet arrangements; but they were speaking about more than that. It was repeatedly said by prisoners and staff that Barlinnie feels safer, looks cleaner, serves better food, has better relationships and a more calm atmosphere. Inspectors saw with their own eyes confirmation of these claims, both in statistical evidence and in the day-to-day life of the prison. Against the background of high numbers and overcrowding these are impressive achievements.

“Moreover, the report provides evidence that Barlinnie has taken advantage of the new opportunity provided by the transformation of the living conditions to make progress in the "care" agenda. Advances in provision as diverse as chaplaincy and psychology; the vigour of the Listeners' Scheme; the emerging strength of the links between social work agencies and the prison under the umbrella of the new Integrated Case Management system; the development of these links in the "Routes out of Prison" programme; and the First Night Centre - all of these are welcome signs of improvement.

“The First Night Centre is an excellent initiative, especially in the context of the very high numbers being received weekly, or even daily, into Barlinnie. The report says It is difficult to overestimate the difference this initiative has made. Even for those who have been in prison before, the large numbers arriving at once is likely to increase the tension and anxiety. For those who arrive for the first time, the experience can be terrifying. The First Night Centre is designed to make introduction to prison life as safe, reassuring and straightforward as possible: the report provides evidence of its success.

“When there is so much change for the better, it is very disappointing to find no change in two matters commented on in previous reports. The conditions in the reception area are no better: the use of holding cubicles on the scale and with the frequency they are used in Barlinnie is completely inconsistent with the improvements in decency throughout the rest of the prison. In 1994 the Committee for the Prevention of Torture said after their visit to Barlinnie to subject a newly arrived prisoner to three successive spells in them [the reception cubicles] is unlikely to alleviate the feelings of anxiety and/or depression that he might well be experiencing. Many must find the process extremely humiliating. In 2003, finding no change, the committee called for the replacement of these cubicles without further delay. The last HMCIP report said the same thing.

“Previous inspection reports have also commented on the great length of time visitors have to spend in the prison waiting for a visit with a prisoner to begin. This report confirms that this situation is also unchanged.

“Perhaps the most serious consequence of high numbers and overcrowding for prisoners in Barlinnie is the lack of opportunity for all prisoners to take part in useful work. Even when remand prisoners are excluded from opportunities for work (and it is regrettable that they are) the number of prisoners engaging in daily work is very low. During the inspection the average figure for those leaving their halls to go to work was 127. The same can be said for education. Whatever the quality of education provision, in the context of the very high numbers of prisoners in Barlinnie, the number taking part in education is also very low (average 27). The absence of opportunities for work and education was deemed particularly important by representatives of the Visiting Committee when they met inspectors.

“Reference has already been made to the improvement in the meals in most parts of the prison. However, for some prisoners food is still served in enclosed plastic trays. It is impossible for food to remain good when kept in these trays for any length of time. Two inspectors ate the same meal on the same day: one from the new hot plate, the other from the plastic tray. The meal from the hot plate was much better.

“Barlinnie is very unusual among Scottish prisons in that convicted prisoners are never allowed to wear their own clothes. The underwear might fit or not, it might be unstained or it might not. This is entirely out of keeping with the clean and decent atmosphere which is in other respects the norm in Barlinnie since the end of slopping out.

“Barlinnie has the highest number of prisoners in Scotland from ethnic minorities. It is unsatisfactory, therefore, that there is less provision for comprehensive planning and managing good race relations than there was at the time of the last inspection. The Multi-Disciplinary Race Relations Monitoring Group has not met for some time: this should be addressed.

“It may be coincidence that several concerns raised in the report appear to arise from the relationship between outside contractors and the SPS; or it may mean that there is something in the contractual relationship which needs further examination. Here are four examples:
• Doctors are not always in the prison when they should be.
• Prisoners regularly arrive in prison from court very late at night.
• There is no addiction service for sex offenders.
• The document designed to encourage prisoners to take up education is very unlikely to achieve that effect.

“It is clear that these examples all represent treatment of prisoners which is less good than it should be. Whether contractual arrangements make it difficult for these issues to be improved remains to be seen.”

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland
October 2006


Click here to read the full report


Visiting Committee

Visiting Committees provide a necessary outside perspective on the life and work of a prison or young offenders’ institution. They act as independent observers on behalf of the community and the Scottish Executive, to whom they are responsible. This independence is central to the function of Visiting Committees underlining the fact that they are not part of the management structure of a prison.

The principal duty of a Visiting Committee is to satisfy itself as to the state and administration of the prison and, in particular, the treatment of prisoners. Visiting Committees should ensure that conditions in prisons and young offenders’ institutions contribute to a safe, humane and decent environment in which prisoners’ rights are respected and where they are provided with opportunities to prepare for release in ways likely to reduce re-offending.

Visiting Committees visit establishments regularly and comment on these matters as well as providing robust, timely and fair responses to prisoners with issues or complaints.

Click here to download the latest Visiting Committee Annual Report (2010 - 2011)

Click Here to link to the Association of Visiting Committee’s website

Information in this section has been kindly provided by the individual prison and the Ministry of Justice. This is supplemented with information from various government websites, Inspectorates and IMB reports and specialist departments within the Prison Service, government, and regional assemblies/parliaments.
Some of the data is published retrospectively: IMBs/Visiting Committees publish their reports up to 6 months after the end of the reporting period and at different times throughout the year, HMCIP publish their reports up to 6 months after the inspection. Population and performance figures are the latest published but can be considerably out of date.
Please Note: Information is constantly changing: The information on our website is regularly checked but if you have additional information, or if you believe that any of our information is incorrect or any links appear to fail please click on ‘Contact’, below.
Before acting upon any information you are advised to contact the prison directly to ensure there have been no recent changes.

Last Update: June 2011

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