'Urgent action' needed to replace outdated Porterfield Prison in Inverness
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URGENT action is needed to replace the outdated prison in Inverness, the country's leading prison inspector has warned.
The HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland has urged the Scottish Government and Scottish Prison Service to "expedite" efforts to replace the ageing Victorian site at Porterfield with a new state-of-the-art facility.
The call was made by Chief Inspector Wendy Sinclair-Gieben in the organisation's annual report.
"While the significant investment made in relatively recent years in new facilities is greatly welcomed, there remains an urgent need to progress development of a replacement for HMPs Barlinnie, Greenock and Inverness," she said.
"In a 21st century justice system, Victorian prisons are costly to run and no longer fit-for-purpose, with cramped cellular accommodation designed for one but holding two, a lack of accessible cells, and steep narrow stairwells unsuitable for older or more infirm prisoners.
"These grim realities mean the Scottish Government and the Scottish Prison Service must expedite their replacement."
She also added that efforts to improve the women's prison system in Scotland were "positive" but may not go far enough. Highland families have long argued that the existing system leaves them with lengthy journeys to visit incarcerated female relatives.
Chief Inspector Wendy Sinclair-Gieben said: "The work to redevelop the women’s estate into a combination of Community Custody Units and a centralised state-of-the-art facility is positive, but it remains to be seen whether, without further changes in approaches to sentencing, sufficient capacity is being created."