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 Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

I reassure Maurice Corry that contingency plans are in place in the event of, for example, a catastrophic failure in our prisons such that additional spaces require to be found. The contingency plans do not give us much comfort, in the sense that we would be looking at more doubling up in cells and having to use space that is currently used for things such as rehabilitation and leisure in the prisoner’s day. I would rather that we did not get into a position in which there is catastrophic failure, as Maurice Corry said, and that we invested in our prison service, as we are doing, including in interim measures, which I look on favourably in relation to Barlinnie.

Maurice Corry alluded to the answer to the problem, the conundrum and the question; the way round the issue is to reduce the prison population. I say this with all seriousness to my colleagues in the Conservatives, because I know that this is a political issue for them: only by being progressive on this agenda, while of course maintaining public safety and public protection—the issues are not mutually exclusive—will we see a reduction in the number of people who come into our prisons. If we reduce the number, I hope that we will not have to take some of the more undesirable contingency measures that we might have to take.