15 April 2002

MSP Meets Justice Ministers

Banff and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has today met with the Scottish Executive Justice Minister Jim Wallace and Deputy Justice Minister Dr Richard Simpson concerning the ongoing consultation on the future of Peterhead Prison. Mr Stevenson was accompanied and supported at the meeting by a delegation from Aberdeenshire Council compromising of Mr Chris White (Aberdeenshire Council’s Area Manager), Cllr Allison McInnes (Lib/Dem Convener of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Committee), and Cllr Stuart Pratt (SNP Peterhead councillor).

Following the meeting Mr Stevenson commented:

“This was a forthright and unexpectedly lengthy meeting which provided an ideal opportunity to challenge the very foundations of the Executive’s proposals to close Peterhead Prison.

“Today’s meeting also coincided with the presentation of a petition, signed by over two thirds of Peterhead Prisons inmates, adding their support for the retention of Peterhead as a dedicated sex offender prison. Significantly, this blows the Executive’s claim, that Peterhead is too remote, out of the water, and I made that clear to the Minister.

“I also took the opportunity to advise the Minister about the findings of my recent fact-finding trip to the privately operated Parc Prison in Wales.

“I also drew the minister’s attention to the recently completed study by the English and Welsh Prison Service. Despite having been conducted by the same consultants as the Scottish study, it had reached very different conclusions about the best way forward.”

Summing up after the meeting, Mr Stevenson said,

“There is strong cross-party support for Peterhead’s prison. The minister has committed to undertake further research into options for Peterhead.

“Overall I took encouragement from the Minister’s assurances that this is a genuine consultation, and that he is not simply going through the motions. Indeed, the Minister indicated that he would undertake additional research in advance of the ending of the consultation period.

“I shall certainly be continuing to put the case forward over the coming months vigorously.”

Stewart Stevenson
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