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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.”

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.”
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