The organisational development of the Scottish Prison Service with particular reference to the role and influence of the prison officer
Coyle, Andrew G.
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This thesis argues that the Prison Service, while it has several unique features, is a bureaucratic structure with a typical mix of organisational strengths and weaknesses. The study of the development of the organisation of the Scottish Prison Service is, therefore, as possible and as proper as is the study of any large organisation. The first substantive chapter of the thesis analyses the historical development of the Scottish Prison Service within an organisational context. This has taken place in 3 main phases, the first two of which were sequential, the third less obviously so and more the result of the increasing involvement of central bureaucratic processes. Historically the Scottish prison system has been properly located within the criminal justice process and throughout the first 100 years of its modem existence the judiciary and the legal establishment played a central role in its development. The first phase or its history covers the years between 1835 and 1877 when it was taken progressively under central control. Particular attention is paid to William Brebner, the founding father of the Scottish prison system, and to the place of the General Prison at Perth. The second historical phase covers the tenure of office of the Scottish Prison Commission between 1877 and 1929. The significance of the Elgin Report of 1900, which has not previously been the subject of research, is described. The third phase of development which began in 1929 and continues today-has attempted to take the prison system out of the criminal justice process and to place it inappropriately within the mainstream of the administrative Civil Service. The thesis analyses the reasons for this and suggests that this structural change, rather than any lack of resources, is responsible for many of the present difficulties facing the Prison Service. The second substantive chapter of the thesis examines the place of the prison system within the sociology of organisations. By definition, an organisation can have only one primary goal. A feature of bureaucratic organisations is that those who work within them will not be satisfied with a single objective and are likely to develop secondary goals. One consequence of the location of the prison system within the mainstream of the civil service has been an emphasis on the secondary goals of imprisonment, principally that of rehabilitation, to the neglect of the primary goal which is the punishment involved in the deprivation of liberty for the length of time laid down by the court. A second consequence is the influence which staff are able to exert on the development of the service. The manner in which the trade unionism of prison staff has evolved in Scotland makes this area particularly worthy of study; an important and topical example is the control of difficult prisoners. The Thesis suggests that the management of the Scottish Prison Service is more participative in style than either the Official or the Staff Side recognise. Throughout the thesis many of the arguments presented are given support by responses to a questionnaire which was issued to serving members of staff and which is fully documented into appendices.
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