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.