The Scottish Government are in a mess over the closure of Noranside Prison. SNP Finance Minister, John Swinney MSP has promised to fight the closure, criticising the decision of his own cabinet colleague, Kenny Macaskill MSP.
The SNP need to get their story straight on Noranside. On the one hand you have the Justice Minister deciding to close the prison and on the other, you have the Finance Minister and colleagues saying it should stay open.
The decision to close the prison makes no sense given the good work done by the prison and the impact on local jobs and the local economy. The SNP should be supporting local people and businesses in Angus.
Noranside is currently underutilised purely as a result of Kenny Macaskill’s own decisions. Long term criminals are being released directly from closed prisons without any transition or preparation for a completely changed environment. Noranside provides an essential service for cutting re-offending rates.
Yet again, we have a simplistic solution from the Scottish Government, who cannot see the wider picture. And in fact, it seems as if the SNP’s left hand can’t see what the right is doing.
Angus Cllr David May also called for Noranside to remain open, commenting:
“It is clear that the SNP are now totally split over what to do with Noranside. Kenny McCaskill needs to do a U Turn, as Noranside is a vital part of the justice system. The Angus open prison has an excellent reputation for the rehabilitation of its prisoners. I have heard that they get their parole and do not return, which is surely what we want from all of our prisons.”
“Furthermore, at a time when a recently released Scottish government report shows that the prison population is growing, it is astonishing that the SNP Justice minister has announced plans to close what has been described by many as the hugely successful Noranside open prison.”
“In addition it is an open secret that there is still overcrowding in other prisons, as I have heard that one prison governor asked for ideas on how to spend the money he gains from overcrowding. If this is true and the prison population is rising it really is absurd that Mr Macaskill plans to close Noranside.”
“I am also concerned about reportsof a bonus system in operation in our prison system which only applies to the best paid staff. If this is the case the SNP Justice and Finance ministers need to explain why they support this especially at a time of cuts and what is the basis for the bonuses. Surely it is not based on overcrowding?”