SNP performs U-turn on flagship prison policy
11 December 2016
North East Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald has today criticised the SNP for U-turning on its policy for housing young offenders. It follows a letter the MSP received from Scotland’s Justice Minister.
When HMP Grampian opened in 2014, it was claimed that it would be a community-facing facility that would help rehabilitate young offenders by keeping them in close contact with their families.
However, following riots at the prison over two years ago young offenders were transferred to the HM Polmont Young Offenders Institute in Falkirk, and that has not yet been reversed.
They were meant to be housed at Polmont on a temporary basis but now Scotland’s Justice Minister Michael Matheson has indicated in a letter to Lewis Macdonald that the move is permanent.
Lewis Macdonald said:
"When HMP Grampian first opened it was heralded with great fanfare as a prison that would be community-facing. It was said that it would allow young offenders to be near home so that they could keep in close contact with their families and as a result improve their chances of rehabilitation.
"It would now appear that the SNP have performed a complete u-turn on their original policy for housing young offenders. Keeping them at Polmont means they have access to a wider range of services in prison but it will make it harder for them to keep in touch with their families in the North East.
"Research suggests that, if young offenders are in close contact with their families, they are more likely to be rehabilitated and reintegrated successfully into their communities on release. This will mean fewer crimes being committed, and it will also give these young people a second chance. I am sorry the SNP has seen fit to change its policy on young offenders from the North East in what appears to be an entirely off-hand way."