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Calls grow for Scottish women’s prison to be shut


Rachel Salmon
WVoN co-editor

The chief inspector of prisons in Scotland said this week that conditions at the only prison for women are “unsatisfactory” and that the jail should close.

This was the third inspection that Brigadier Hugh Monro had carried out at Cornton Vale prison, near Stirling, in two and a half years.

He described visiting one of the jail’s units, which houses prisoners with mental health issues, and who are kept separate from others, as a “harrowing experience”, according to the Scotsman.

This follows the recommendation in a report published last week by the Commission on Women Offenders, chaired by former Lord Advocate Dame Elish Angiolini  that Cornton Vale should be demolished.

Her report said it should be replaced by a smaller specialist prison for long-term, high-risk prisoners, with regional units for short-term, remand prisoners.

Mr Monro told The Scotsman that he “completely endorsed” the call for the prison to be shut.

Although the Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill, has accepted that the jail is not fit for purpose, he said that a new prison could not be “magicked” out of thin air.

He said that he accepted: “the logic and direction intimated by Dame Elish Angiolini, but a prison can’t be just magicked out the air, either in terms of the cost of it or in terms of the construction of it”, according to STV news.

The minister continued: “But I accept the clear implication that it is not fit for purpose, not withstanding the outstanding service of those who work in it, and that it will ultimately have to go. That’s a matter that I will be discussing with the Scottish Prison Service.

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