The number of sexual crimes in Scotland will rise dramatically
if the executive goes ahead with its plans to close Peterhead
Prison, according to Aberdeenshire council.
Earlier this year, the executive revealed its intention to close
Peterhead Prison, and move the 300 sex offenders housed there to
prisons in the central belt from where most originate.
Aberdeenshire council, where the prison is placed, sought advice
from a range of people including the former head of the Scottish
Prison Service and an independent firm of accountants.
Peter McKinlay, former chief executive of the Scottish Prison
Service, said that Peterhead’s world-renowned STOP programme,
which works with sex offenders, had taken 10 years to fully
McKinlay said: “I don’t believe that the transfer of the
STOP programme to other prisons could be achieved without serious
disruption and risk of increased offences.”
He has recommended that a new purpose-built unit be created on
the present site, which could house Scotland’s estimated 500
imprisoned sex offenders rather than the 300 currently based
The council also sought advice from Grant Thornton, an
independent accountancy firm, which said that the executive had
failed to take into account the full effect of closure on the local
economy which they calculate will lose £8 million and 300
Opposition political parties have responded to these reports by
accusing the executive of failing to take account of all relevant
matters and putting savings before public safety. The
executive’s plans, which include the closure of two state-run
prisons, will produce an estimated saving of £700 million.
But Jim Wallace, justice minister, said: “Peterhead prison is
old and dilapidated with no access to night time sanitation.
Renovation of the existing prison is not an option though we will
look at all other options.” The final decision on Peterhead’s
future is expected later this summer.
Meanwhile, the numbers of prisoners released on parole under the
supervision of social work departments has decreased from 656 in
2000 to 647 in 2001, according to the latest Scottish executive
statistical bulletin. The number of mandatory life prisoners
applying to government ministers for early release has reduced from
63 to 43 during the same period.