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Scotland: New women's prison scrapped in favour of small community-based centres

26th January 2015

Plans for a new women's prison in Scotland have been scrapped, in favour of "smaller regional and community-based custodial facilities across the country".

Criticisms of the proposed £75m women's prison, intended to replace Cornton Vale women's prison, centred on the recommendations of the Commission on Women Offenders (the 'Angiolini report') that female offending should be tackled with small regional units.

The Scottish government has said it will undertake a period of consultation, with a view to investing in smaller regional and community-based custodial facilities across the country. The proposals will also consider provision of a smaller facility within the prison estate for the small number of serious female offenders who receive long-term prison sentences.

Making the announcement, Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said:

“We know that women offenders are far less likely to be a danger to the public  compared with men. We also know that the families and children of female offenders are more likely to go off the rails and offend themselves if mothers are jailed miles away from home. This turns into a vicious circle, affecting future generations, and is doing nothing to address reoffending.

“I believe we should be investing in smaller regional and community-based custodial facilities across the country, rather than a large new prison for women. This approach would be more closely aligned with the vision set out by Dame Elish. It also demonstrates the Scottish Government’s commitment to tackling inequalities."

He made the announcement while on a visit to the 218 service in Glasgow, operated by Turning Point Scotland, which features as an example of good practice in the IPRT Position Paper 10: Women in the Criminal Justice System (p. 17).

The proposal also chimes with the recommendations contained in the Joint Irish Prison Service Probation Service Female Strategy  - An Effective Response to Women who Offend, which was launched in March 2014.

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