Scottish Prison Service (Auditor General’s Report)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 3rd December 2019.

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Photo of Alex Rowley Alex Rowley Labour

I note that the cabinet secretary acknowledged the hard work and dedication of prison staff; he also acknowledged the pressure that they are under. Although a wage increase is welcome, that will not resolve the major issues.

I recently met staff from Perth prison. The situation that they described to me is one in which staff morale is at rock bottom. The staff are stressed, under pressure and anxious, as the cabinet secretary acknowledged. The sickness levels are adding to the pressure, because of the lack of cover, which is also leading to prisoners being kept in their cells for far too long. All that pressure is bubbling away—it is like a pressure pot that staff are frightened will blow. Do we need more staff in our prison service? Has a proper analysis been done of the current and required staffing levels? Will we actually take the action that is required in order to put in place a proper workplace staffing programme, to ensure that prisons are adequately staffed?