10 April 2002

MSP Visits Private Prison On Fact Finding Trip

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson visited Parc Prison in Bridgend, Wales yesterday as part of his research into privatisation in the prison service. Parc Prison is operated by Securicor and includes a dedicated long-term prisoner sex-offender unit.

Speaking from Cardiff, Mr Stevenson said:

“This was an extremely useful and worthwhile visit. It showed me clearly why there should be no place in the Scottish Prison Service for private profit.

“The sex-offenders at this private prison were clearly just marking time. There was little evidence of any of the innovative techniques employed at Peterhead Prison which has helped make it a world centre for the treatment and rehabilitation of sex-offenders.

“I had been led to expect this private prison to show innovation. In fact I found a prison where the majority of sex-offenders had to share a cell. In view of the nature of their offences, I found this astonishing.

“In contrast to the average cost per prisoner at Peterhead of around £23,000 per year, the supposedly efficient privately-run Parc Prison actually costs substantially more at £31,000. This throws into considerable doubt the use of Parc and other private prisons in England and Wales as comparators to justify the SPS claims that private prisons save money. I saw absolutely no evidence of this.

“At Parc Prison, I saw staff who tried hard but who lacked the motivation and training to deliver the cost-effective service we see for sex-offenders at Peterhead.

“When I meet Justice Minister Jim Wallace on Monday I will be putting it to him that the advice he has received from the Scottish Prison Service is deeply flawed.”

SNP Westminster leader Alex Salmond added:

“This blows away the case for privatisation and reduces to tatters the Government’s arguments.

“The more we find out about private prisons, the more ridiculous the Government’s position is, and the more suspicious we become of the motives of the cabal at the top of the Scottish Prison Service. Jim Wallace seems to be listening very carefully to a small handful of people who are hell-bent on privatising Scotland’s prisons with no regard to the consequences for public safety that entails.”

Stewart Stevenson
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