HMP Stirling (Noise Complaints)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 23 November 2023.

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Photo of Keith Brown Keith Brown Scottish National Party

1. To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on progress towards addressing the reported concerns raised by local residents about HMP Stirling. (S6O-02773)

Photo of Angela Constance Angela Constance Scottish National Party

A s the member will understand, that is largely an operational issue for the Scottish Prison Service, but I can assure him that the noise complaints are being taken very seriously by both me and the SPS. Officials from the Scottish Prison Service and Stirling Council attended a public meeting with MSPs and councillors on 13 November to update residents on the actions that they are taking to help alleviate the noise coming from parts of the prison. Those include a range of operational and infrastructure options.

Photo of Keith Brown Keith Brown Scottish National Party

I attended a public meeting last week, where representatives of the SPS were able to hear directly from residents about their concerns. I am pleased that the SPS agreed to provide updates every fortnight to keep people informed of progress towards addressing the issues.

Over the past few days, however, I have received several emails about continued disturbances, and I have real concern over what my constituents feel is a lack of urgency on the various mitigation measures discussed at the public meeting, with most of those measures appearing unlikely to happen until well into the new year. The situation is clearly having a significant impact on the lives of my constituents. For example, one constituent has explained that his eight-year-old daughter sits with headphones on, crying, because she is so upset by the noise that she is hearing. Does the cabinet secretary agree that that is not acceptable, and that the SPS must expedite its plans to address the situation as a matter of urgency?

Photo of Angela Constance Angela Constance Scottish National Party

I agree very much with the member, who has continued to raise these matters with me, that the issues need to be resolved as soon as possible for all concerned. I know that the SPS is rightly very concerned about the impact on neighbours, and that it has been taking action as a priority, as Mr Brown is aware. The SPS remains committed to engagement with local residents. Indeed, Prison Service officials are meeting local councillors today to discuss the operational measures that they are already taking to minimise the noise.

I have asked the chief executive to keep me updated on progress.

Photo of Alexander Stewart Alexander Stewart Conservative

Residents are exhausted by the continued disturbances. The new facility continues to fail the inmates and residents, who cannot wait months for mitigation measures to be implemented. They need action, and they need it now. It is quite clear from what was said at the public meeting that residents were not in any way considered through the design and planning processes for the facility. What urgent action can we put in place to resolve the situation for the exhausted residents?

Photo of Angela Constance Angela Constance Scottish National Party

I thank Mr Stewart for his extensive correspondence on this matter, which has included some video footage. I reassure him, all members and the constituents whom they represent that they have my support in working with the Prison Service to get matters resolved as quickly as possible. He will, of course, be aware of all the actions that have taken place both operationally, within the prison, and structurally, outwith the prison.

I very much want to see the situation resolved, and I can confirm to Mr Stewart that I have replied to his extensive letter this morning.

Photo of Mr Mark Ruskell Mr Mark Ruskell Green

The evidence is clear that the noise disturbances at HMP Stirling have been getting worse, not better, despite the proposed mitigations from the SPS. At the public meeting last week, which was co-ordinated by my colleague Councillor Alasdair Tollemache, the SPS admitted that it had no way of monitoring noise around the site beyond recording the complaints from constituents. Does the cabinet secretary agree that the SPS must urgently find a way to monitor noise disturbances at HMP Stirling systematically and proactively to start to restore trust with residents, as well as monitoring whether or not the mitigations are working?

Photo of Angela Constance Angela Constance Scottish National Party

I can confirm to Mr Ruskell that I have replied to his councillor colleague and assure him that staff on site are actively intervening daily to limit the sound levels that are related to the disturbances experienced on the prison site and by residents. Alongside that and further other operational measures, the SPS has given a commitment to continue to measure and monitor the noise levels to inform the development of further options to suppress them.