The announcement that plans for a new female prison in Inverclyde will not go ahead has been welcomed today as Justice Secretary Michael Matheson has announced that the Scottish Government and Scottish Prison Service will now consult on investing in smaller, regional and community-based facilities across Scotland – in line with the recommendations of the report written by the expert group headed Dame Elish Angiolini QC.
In 2010 the SNP Government introduced a presumption against sentences of 3 months or less. This is a particular issue for female offenders, where around three quarters of prisoners are currently serving a sentence of less than 6 months.
Commenting SNP MSP Christina McKelvie, who has campaigned for community based facilities for female offenders for several years, said:
"The decision to move towards community based facilities for female offenders is a welcome one that will help to reduce re-offending and help to support families.
"Since the publication of the Angiolini report in 2012 there has been a clear recognition that we need to do things differently and today's decision is a welcome victory for those of us who have campaigned on this issue throughout that time.
"Female offenders have different needs to male offenders and that is something that we need to be better at recognising and accommodating in Scotland's justice system.
"By keeping female offenders closer to home, we can break the vicious cycle that sees the children and families of mothers who are jailed miles away from home becoming offenders themselves.
"I welcome the ambition shown in today's announcement and am confident that it is the start of moves towards a more modern prison system."