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16 March 2005

SCOTTISH PRISON SERVICE TO BLAME FOR TAXPAYERS MONEY COMPENSATING PRISONERS SAYS STEVENSON

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has launched a scathing attack on Scottish Prison Service (SPS) Chief Executive Tony Cameron, blaming him for what he sees as the scandalous waste of taxpayers money being used to deal with the ‘slopping-out’ cases being brought against the Government.

Prisoners are currently engaged in legal battles with the Scottish Executive over “human rights” issues which they claim was caused by being forced to ‘slop-out’ from their prison cells due to lack of sanitation.

Now, Mr Stevenson has called for SPS chief Tony Cameron to resign over the matter. Commenting, Mr Stevenson – who is also the SNP’s Prisons spokesperson - said:

“It is a damning indictment of the SPS management led by Tony Cameron that he passed the opportunity to deal with the slopping-out issue. Had he used a common sense approach, we may not now be in a situation where taxpayers money which should be used to bring more dentists to the North-east or reduce NHS waiting times is being used to compensate convicted criminals.

“Before prison estates review at the start of the decade, the SPS actually handed back around £14 million which it said it didn’t need. This money should have been used to upgrade our Victorian jails but was instead used to make Tony Cameron look good in front of his Executive bosses.

“Now, we can clearly see the results of these actions as criminals queue up for compensation. It was all so avoidable if only there had been some real leadership at the top of the SPS. Tony Cameron should do the decent thing and resign.”

Mr Stevenson then went on to repeat his call for a new-build prison at Peterhead. He said:

“As to where we are now, it is clear that investment is needed in the prison service to replace and upgrade our outmoded Victorian jails in the North of Scotland, all of which – Peterhead, Craiginches and Inverness – have issues.

“The logical place for a new jail is at Peterhead where there is a record of excellence on the part of the staff and plenty of space for a new build.”
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