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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Kenny MacAskill to visit overcrowded Barlinnie jail

Kenny MacAskill to visit overcrowded Barlinnie jail

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill is to visit Barlinnie Prison to witness overcrowding problems first hand.

A recent HMIP report into Scotland's largest jail found it was more than 50% over capacity, with about 500 inmates more than it was designed for.

Chief inspector of prisons, Brigadier Hugh Monro, said this meant it could not be regarded as "safe".

Mr MacAskill said the Scottish government was committed to tackling the rising prison population.

In his inspection report, Brig Monro said the number of remand prisoners at Barlinnie had risen by 28% since 2009, compared with an increase of just 5% in the overall prison population.

He has called for a review into why so many men who have not yet faced a trial are held in Barlinnie.

'Reduce reoffending'

Speaking ahead of his visit, Mr MacAskill said: "We are committed to tackling the rising prison population and have taken a number of steps to reverse the trend.

"We acted in the last parliament and secured a parliamentary majority to tackle the problem of ineffective very short prison sentences and taken forward wider work to reduce reoffending but it's clear that more needs to be done.

"We are continuing to invest in improving the whole prison estate and delivering two new prisons - HMP Low Moss and HMP Grampian - alongside the ongoing redevelopment of HMP Shotts."

The justice secretary said this would help relieve some of the overcrowding pressures faced at Barlinnie and the wider prison estate.

"Crime is going down in this country and is now at its lowest level for 35 years," Mr MacAskill added.

"I am determined to seeing this translate into a reduction in overcrowding as we build a prison service fit for the 21st Century."

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