HMP Inverness (Capacity)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 23 January 2019.

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Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

Edward Mountain makes a very important point. None of us wants to see overoccupancy in any of our prisons—indeed, I answered a question last week on this issue from, I think, Liam McArthur. The fact that we have one of the highest prison populations—if not, by some measures, the highest—is to our great shame and not something to be proud of at all.

The member is absolutely right to say that such a situation potentially has a detrimental effect on rehabilitation. I know that the SPS is very aware of that and will work hard on continuing to fund rehabilitation programmes and looking at alternatives to custody. I know that his colleagues in the United Kingdom Government recognise this, but I say genuinely to the member that short sentences do not have the same impact on rehabilitating those who commit crimes as community disposals do. As a result, I would appreciate it if, when we come forward with plans to introduce a presumption against short sentences of 12 months, he and his party would look at them with genuine open-mindedness.

As for the replacement for HMP Inverness, I will send the member some details on that. It is included in the Government’s infrastructure planning, but it is fair to say that at the moment the priorities are the female custodial estate, a replacement for Barlinnie and then a replacement for HMP Inverness.