A charity that works on behalf of families in Scotland affected by imprisonment has condemned a website for “profiting from other people’s trauma” by selling merchandise which makes light of inmates at a Scottish prison.

The merchandise, which features a design with the slogan ‘Barlinnie Psycho Ward 6-6-6’ on it, is available to purchase on Redbubble, a hugely popular online marketplace for print-on-demand products based on user-submitted artwork. 

Operated by the Scottish Prison Service and located in the residential suburb of Riddrie in the north east of Glasgow, HMP Barlinnie is the largest prison in Scotland. 

Redbubble is headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, but has operations in San Francisco and Berlin. Founded in 2006, it now has over 700,000 active artists on its platform.

READ MORE: More support needed for care-experienced young people with siblings in prison

A total of 78 products featuring the ‘Barlinnie Psycho Ward 6-6-6’ design are listed for sale on the Redbubble website - including t-shirts, baby one-pieces, cotton tote bags, shower curtains, drinks coasters, iPhone cases, mugs and spiral notebooks.

One of the pieces, the ‘essential t-shirt’, is marketed by Redbubble as being “fun as [a] t-shirt for [a] Halloween costume” or as a “great funny stocking filler gift at Christmas”. The t-shirts can be purchased on the site for a retail value of £15.78 each.

The Barlinnie merchandise appears to have been designed and sold by a user called CoolYule, whose profile page lists thousands of other products featuring their designs for sale - including stickers with the slogan ‘Todays Rain Is Tomorrow’s Whisky’, t-shirts with a ‘Scottish Lives Matter’ design and a ‘Let’s Get Brexit Done’ poster. 

Redbubble advertises itself as an online marketplace that “connects artists with customers who are looking for unique, custom-made products” and allows them to “create designs that are then printed on a variety of products, including t-shirts, phone cases, stickers, and more”. 

The Herald: HMP BarlinnieHMP Barlinnie (Image: NQ)

The goods and apparel listed for sale are described as being “officially licensed-inspired gifts".

All designs listed for sale on Redbubble are reportedly reviewed by a team of moderators before they are approved for sale.

Redbubble’s Community and Content Guidelines note that it is “a respectful, supportive, and encouraging community that is deeply passionate about art and creativity”.

The guidelines also warn that “work that glorifies or trivialises violence or human suffering is not permitted. For example, graphic depictions of violence, works that trivialise violent acts, and work or behaviour where the intent of the artist is to incite hatred or violence. This includes the promotion of organisations, groups or people who have a history of violence and/or an agenda of hate.”

READ MORE: Warning over funding model for Scotland's criminal justice system

However, the Barlinnie design merchandise has drawn criticism from Edinburgh-based charity Families Outside, which provides information and support to families affected by imprisonment on issues such as housing, finance, and emotional support.

A spokesperson for Families Outside told The Herald: “We are disappointed to hear about this product and to see a company profiting from other people’s trauma, whilst families impacted by imprisonment are being pushed further into poverty. This type of product is made at the expense of people serving a sentence within HMP Barlinnie, as well as their families, and contributes further to the stigma that they face.

“At Families Outside we work with families whose own mental wellbeing is being severely impacted through concerns for those they are supporting. Lengthy wait times for mental health services in prisons make accessing help difficult for those seeking support, and staff shortages in these institutions is leading to people being kept in cells, sometimes for up to 30 hours at a time, with little access to the outdoors.

“On the 30th of November we marked the 2-year anniversary of the Independent Review of the Response to Deaths in Prison Custody, which recommended that there should be an additional inquiry into the prevention of deaths. Little progress has been made since then, and yet we have continued to see a number of deaths in custody occur during this time.

“Families are being left to deal with feelings of grief, trauma, anxiety and distress, and a product like this minimises the significant emotional toll and impact that is felt. To make light of a system that is failing people inside and out does nothing to challenge negative perceptions or raise awareness to the long-lasting impacts that are felt by many.” 

The Herald approached Redbubble for comment.