Macdonald calls for action on young offenders
North East Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald is calling for action by the Scottish Government to ensure HMP Grampian reaches the standards that would allow young offenders to return to the region.
The young offenders were moved over a year ago, following riots by the adult male population at the newly-opened Peterhead jail. At that time, the Scottish Prison Service said that the young offenders would be returned to the North East, where they could be nearer to family, once new procedures were put in place.
However, a recent letter from Chief Executive Colin McConnell has revealed that the SPS no longer has any short-term plans to return North East young offenders to HMP Grampian, despite this being a major part of SNP plans for a community-facing jail.
Lewis Macdonald said today:
“For almost a year, young offenders from the North East and their families have been in limbo, uncertain when they would be returned to HMP Grampian.
“Now, the SPS have announced that this move is off the cards, as they are unable to provide the same levels of support and expertise at HMP Grampian as they can at Polmont.
“This puts the SNP’s whole plan for a community-facing jail, serving adult male and female prisoners and young offenders, into doubt. Yet this was the very reason that Aberdeen’s Craiginches prison was closed in favour of the new facility in Peterhead.
“Questions have to be raised regarding what steps were taken by Scottish Ministers to ensure that the services to support young offenders were in place before the Peterhead jail opened. There must also be concerns that HMP Grampian is unable to provide the best quality support for the adult population if it is unable to do so for young offenders.
“Contact with families is a vital part of rehabilitation and the decision to keep North East young offenders housed in the Central Belt will undoubtedly make it extremely difficult for many family members to visit.
“The Scottish Government must ensure that HMP Grampian has the support it needs to be able to rehabilitate offenders of every age, otherwise the SNP’s so-called “superjail” risks becoming nothing more than an embarrassing failure.”