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JAMES DUSTAN (Scottish Prison Service HQ)

JAMES DUSTAN (Scottish Prison Service HQ)

COMMENDEE 2012-13: Manager: for longstanding commitment to excellence in the management and care of offenders.


[James Dustan gives his account of the work for which he won his Commendation]

As Functional Head at HM Prison Edinburgh I project managed the change in focus from a production employment regime to a College based Learning Environment .Delivering a range of work based qualifications has resulted in prisoners not only gaining skills and knowledge but enhanced their opportunities for employment on release.

The physical fabric of the Prison dated from the early 1900s and was built to accommodate large numbers of prisoners conducting menial tasks in an open workshop environment.

Buildings had been adapted for use and activities were not managed in sequential manner resulted in inefficiencies being the unintended consequences. The adaption of buildings to provide activity space had also resulted in significant Health and Safety challenges as the work areas had not been designed for modern day use. Noise, dust and ventilation all presented obstacles to the delivery of activities and services.

Capital investment was identified for the Prison allowing a rethink of both the physical environment and the delivery of constructive activity.

The main identified challenges being the continual employment of seven hundred prisoners during the physical redevelopment and the secure imprisonment of a further two hundred remand prisoners.

The future proofing of any construction had to allow for at least a sixty year lifespan of the buildings with built in flexibility for change of use. The Project buy in of the forty plus staff complement who were working in a traditional and inefficient environment was essential .Staff members would be required to change both their attendance patterns and in some cases some or their entire role.

As the project manager for change I engaged with the external design team tasked with creating a functional flexible physical environment. This initially required a project plan to be created identifying what activities were required to take place and what areas were required to deliver the activities in a safe and conducive environment matching all Health and Safety requirements.

The design team also had to match the requirements of the    establishment with those of any external accreditation body that would inspect and give site accreditation.

Although the design team were open to discussion limitations did exist around financial constraints and the actual foot print of land available for development.

Constraints were also identified as it had to comply with the strict regulations relating to the construction of Prison Buildings and specific specifications of materials and security details.

Working in tandem an internal team lead by myself had to plan for a decant of all activity areas allowing for demolition and construction to take place while providing new activities to be established without the loss of any prisoner activity places. This was also required to take place in a live Prison environment ensuring that good order and security was not compromised.

This included the careful management of the demolition and construction site allowing access as required without the Prison environment being compromised.

Specific areas to be redeveloped included the Kitchen, Laundry, Vocational Training Work Areas and gymnasium.

Key to this was the cooperation and buy in of the Functions staff and managers.

The communication of the initial concept by me and the identification of key factors and risks which could disrupt both the delivery of service and the factors effecting the physical work environment were critical to the good management of the project.

The clear identification of each phase of the project and key milestones and risk factors and engagement with all staff members allowed each individual an input to their specific area during the temporary arrangement and at the point of final occupancy of the new build.

Essential to the final delivery of service was the site accreditation process which again engaged individuals to have positive buy in as they had been consulted throughout the project and had had a personal input and therefor had ownership of their individual element of delivery.


[The following article appeared in issue 5 of the Butler Trust’s magazine, Inspire]

Also commended is Community Justice Authority Liaison Manager at SPS headquarters, JIM DUSTAN, for his ‘longstanding commitment to excellence in the management and care of offenders’ during his 34year career with the service. Jim originally supervised the change from ‘production line’ work to vocational training at HMP Edinburgh, which had a significant impact on the employment prospects of prisoners, and has also worked hard to strengthen links between external service providers to help make reintegration into the community as smooth as possible. Jim works closely with a range of organisations including Jobcentre Plus, the Citizens Advice Bureau and others to improve support in education and training, housing and substance use treatment, playing a crucial role in supporting partnership working between prisons and service providers.

Praised for his vision, drive and modesty and highly respected by both prison staff and community partner colleagues, Jim states that ‘the political landscape of Scotland regarding justice appears to be refocused, and is open to innovative ideas which both protect the public and enhance the opportunities for offenders on release. I feel I have made a difference to offenders’ lives and the communities to which they return.’

For more information: contact Scottish Prison Service HQ

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