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Highland MSPs will push for women's prison facilities closer to home; Bid by Labour MSPs for custody unit to be located in Highlands


By Gregor White

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MSP David Stewart.
MSP David Stewart.

MSP David Stewart wants to see a new women's custody unit created in the Highlands.

Currently there are 24 women prisoners from the Highlands accommodated either at Cornton Vale, close to Stirling, or at HMP Grampian in peterhead.

Two new Community Custody Units are due to open in Glasgow and Dundee by the end of 2021 and Mr Stewart wants to see created in the Highlands too.

Last week at the Scottish Parliament he was advised by justice minister Humza Yusaf to speak to the Scottish Prison Service on the matter which he has now said he will do along, with fellow Highlands and Islands Labour MSP colleague Rhoda Grant.

"The new Community Custody Units are being designed to accommodate 20 women," he said.

"In 2019 there were 16 women from the Highlands in custody, with the other eight being from island communities or Moray.

"Distances within the Highlands and Islands and Moray are already vast and to ask family members to travel further into Grampian or the central belt to visit female relatives is completely unjust."

"We will be making the case for facilities to be made available within the Highlands and Islands.”

Rhoda Grant said: "Prison sentences not only impact on the prisoner but on their families too and we must ensure families, particularly children, can easily visit a loved one whilst they are serving their sentence.

"This is even more important where that access is to their mother."

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