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Penal Establishments

Volume 116: debated on Tuesday 12 May 1987

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what plans he has made for the future use of penal establishments in Scotland; and if he will make a statement.

I have now completed a detailed review of the use of penal establishments in Scotland in the light of completion of new accommodation at Phase II of Shotts prison and the measures needed to reduce overcrowding in local prisons notably Aberdeen, Barlinnie, Edinburgh and Inverness prisons.Because of the Government's capital investment programme, 180 extra places became available last year when Greenock prison re-opened and 468 extra places will be available as Shotts prison phase II is occupied in the second half of this year. Since January 1985, there has been an increase of 40 per cent. in the average daily penal population serving long sentences. This increase, particularly in numbers of adult male prisoners, has put additional pressures on local prisons and on the existing training halls for long-term prisoners at Edinburgh, Perth, Greenock and Shotts prisons. Although additional capacity has been planned, changes in the use of some establishments were essential to match available places more closely to needs for different categories of inmate.In the earlier part of this year, urgent temporary measures were taken to reduce the pressure on Barlinnie and other local prisons by making use of under-occupied accommodation for young offenders. One hall at Glenochil YOI was used for this purpose from March and a second hall was taken into use for adult prisoners on a temporary basis from 6 April. With effect from 13 April, Noranside institution, which had been used as an open young offenders' institution, became an adult open prison and now houses just under 100 adult inmates.After consultation with the Trade Union Side of the Scottish Prison Service and comments from other interested parties, such as visiting committees for individual establishments, I have decided that the whole of Glenochil YOI should be used on a permanent basis as an adult prison and that Dumfries prison (apart from its local accommodation for remands) and Greenock prison should replace Glenochil as secure young offenders institutions. With the change of use, and the change of use for Noranside which has already taken place, about 300 places in the young offender system will have been transferred to use for adult prisoners. The final timetable, and detailed arrangements for the change of use of Glenochil YOI, Dumfries prison and Greenock prison are now being worked out and will be implemented as quickly as possible from June this year.

Friarton institution, which is being used for short-term adult prisoners at present, will be retained for adults for the time being. If additional places for convicted young offenders prove to be necessary, we will give further consideration to use of Friarton as a medium security young offenders institution.

I am satisfied that these measures will substantially reduce recent levels of overcrowding in adult local prisons, provide a more suitable range of facilities and opportunities for long-term adult prisoners and young offenders, and enable essential repairs in older prison halls to proceed sooner than would otherwise be possible. The need for different kinds of accommodation will continue to be carefully monitored in relation to the size and balance of the population of Scottish penal establishments.