March 27, 2008
THE OPEN prisons at Castle Huntly, near Dundee, and Noranside, near Forfar, are to get separate governors in the wake of the Robert Foye case.
Justice minister Kenny MacAskill told MSPs yesterday he had instructed the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) to make the changes to the prisons “in view of the substantially increased numbers of prisoners now held in their facilities.”
The minister also had a message for those who are allowed to serve part of their sentence in an open prison—run away and you may not get back.
He told MSPs that once a prisoner has absconded from an open prison he could only go back with the express approval of senior prison bosses.
Foye absconded from Castle Huntly in 2005 before being returned there only to abscond again.
He informed MSPs that there will be a “clear presumption” against returning a prisoner to the open estate if they have previously absconded.
He said, “That will send a clear message to all those trusted with a place in the open estate—abscond from open conditions and you can assume that you will not return to such open conditions again without a very compelling reason.”
He continued, “Moreover, as an additional safeguard, I have insisted that any approval for the return of a prisoner to the open estate who has absconded before will now be required from SPS headquarters and at a senior level.
“I expect such approvals to be few and justifiable.”
Tomorrow the cabinet secretary for justice, Kenny MacAskill, will ask the Parliament to extend the home detention curfew scheme to long-term prisoners.
Scottish Tory justice spokesman Bill Aitken said, “I am extremely concerned by the fact there will only be a ‘presumption’ against returning absconders to an open prison.”
He continued, “They must serve the rest of their sentence in a closed prison —no second chances.
“This is a make-or-break week for the SNP on justice issues—sadly, they’ve flunked the first test today.
“Even worse, they will press ahead tomorrow with their plans for extending home detention curfews to more violent prisoners.
“Unless they backtrack— and backtrack fast—they will have utterly failed to convince the public that they have what it takes to protect them.”
The former convener of the Noranside Prison visiting committee last night welcomed the decision to restore separate governors to Noranside and Castle Huntly, writes Bruce Robbins.
Neil Powrie, who is a member of the joint prison visiting committee, praised the minister for his “common sense” approach, which he predicted would be of huge benefit to the two establishments.
Mr Powrie, a former Conservative councillor on Dundee City Council, said everyone on the Noranside visiting committee knew that conjoining Noranside and Castle Huntly in an “open estate” was never likely to work.
Mr Powrie said he and his fellow visitors would often turn up at Noranside only to find that there was no governor available.
He said, “I predicted, along with other members of the committee, that the open estate was a disaster waiting to happen.
“It was ludicrous to try to run two prisons so far apart like this.
“I’m delighted that there has been a complete review, and very pleased that Kenny MacAskill has announced that separate governors are to be appointed.”
The joint visiting committee has only had a few visits to the Tayside prisons, but is now likely to be dismantled in favour of the former system of two individual visiting committees.
Mr Powrie added, “Having two governors back in charge will make the most enormous difference to the running of the prisons.
“We also need to start looking more closely at the calibre of prisoner who is being sent to the open prisons.
“Overcrowding in the closed prison system means that prisoners who would not otherwise have been considered for the open estate are being allowed in.”
Our view is that the problem does not relate to the nature of the Open Estate as such but revolves round the manner in which it has been utterly mishandled by current management. The move to having a Governor for each establishment is a sensible one and ought to have been done long ago. It is important to ask why this has only come about as a result of political instruction. The answer is that SPS have proved over and over again that they are motivated by penny pinching and are unable to take control of the situation. It is about time that they stopped promoting people way beyond their limited capabilities. In our view the current Governor was a terrible choice and the facts speak for themselves.
The Open estate is good for the public and for prisoners alike – it just needs to be run properly. The system needs to be more flexible with decisions as to who goes to the Open Estate being taken by responsible persons accountable for their decisions and not by creating some kind of matrix and looking for prisoners falling into pre-conceived categories.
Joba Chamberlain Jersey Ydd believe in
Jonathan Quick Jersey - Jun 19, 2012 8:06 AM
Corsets Manufacturer - Dec 25, 2012 2:46 AM
Wholesale corsets website of worldwide famous top sexy lingerie and corsets manufacturer Shiying Sexy Lingerie Co., Ltd. Top quality wholesale corsets exhibition here. (http://www.corsets-manufacturer.com/)