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Scotland’s newest prison, due to open in March this year, will use its modern design and facilities to impose a regime of work and rehabilitation for the 700 prisoners expected to occupy HM Prison Low Moss.
The Cabinet Secretary for Justice Kenny MacAskill met with Governor Michael Stoney and toured the prison which when opened will contribute towards efforts to relieve overcrowding across the whole prison estate.
The new HMP Low Moss has been delivered under budget at a cost of £120 million. It will provide 700 cells as well as facilities to allow prisoners to address their reoffending and reintegrate into the community on their release from prison. These facilities will include a link centre where prisoners will be able to deal with matters relating to employment, housing, social work, through-care addiction service.
Mr MacAskill said:
"Our priority for any prison is to punish serious offenders and keep the public safe. I was pleased to see the progress that’s been made at HMP Low Moss which will certainly be a good example of how we should be managing prisoners the 21st century.
“This new building, and the way it is designed, will allow prison management to impose tough new crackdowns on inmates, such as cutting the power to cells during the day and operating a 9-5 working week.
“In the case of many other prisons, staff have to deal with the constraints of outdated buildings and unsuitable facilities but at HMP Low Moss, the Prison Service has been able to build a prison which meets its needs, puts the necessary constraints on prisoners and provides the space for worthwhile rehabilitation training.
“Prison will always be the right place for serious offenders and it must be a place where criminals are punished for the damage they have done and the public feels safe in the knowledge that these offenders are off our streets.
“Despite the UK Government’s unprecedented cuts to the Scottish capital budget we are continuing to invest in improving the prison estate and will deliver another new prison, HMP Grampian, alongside the ongoing redevelopment of HMP Shotts. As a result of this Government’s investment, the maintenance burden associated with old and unfit prison buildings has been considerably reduced.
“I believe prisons are for public safety and not private profit. That is why one of the first decisions I took as Cabinet Secretary was to halt the private procurement process underway at Low Moss and invite bids from the private sector to design a prison that would be operated publicly.
“Overcrowding does remain a problem across the whole prison estate, as it does in almost every other Western democracy. It is not something we can simply build our way out of and it’s therefore vital that we find better solutions for low-level criminals who pose low risk.
“We know that reoffending rates are much lower for those that receive a community sentence compared to those that receive a short prison sentence. I am determined that our justice system provides tough punishment for low-level offenders leaving prison space for the more serious and dangerous criminals. That is why we introduced Community Payback Orders which makes low-level offenders repay their debt to communities by undertaking unpaid manual labour instead of giving them free bed and board in prison.
“I look forward to the opening of HMP Low Moss and the contribution it will make to developing and improving our prison estate for the future.”
The new HMP Low Moss in East Dunbartonshire will replace the old prison accommodation that had previously occupied most of the site.
HMP Low Moss has been delivered at a cost of £120 million from within existing Scottish Prison Service budgets.
The original HMP Low Moss accommodated up to 327 prisoners in mainly dormitory accommodation much of which was in the form of wooden buildings. The prison was closed in May 2007. The buildings were subsequently demolished and the site cleared ready for a new prison to be built.
The prison will include the provision of programmes to address offending; of education; and of vocational skills. The Scottish Prison Service will work closely with the North Strathclyde Community Justice Authority in developing through-care.