Prisoners Doubled Up In Single Cells

17 February 2019, 12:15 | Updated: 17 February 2019, 12:16

Prison guard

More than 1,400 prisoners in Scotland have had to share a single cell with another inmate, according to the Justice Secretary.

Humza Yousaf revealed the figures in a letter to Labour justice spokesman Daniel Johnson.

They highlighted 12% of Scotland's single cells have more than one prisoner.

Mr Yousaf wrote: "As at Monday January 21, there were 5,877 single cells occupied within the prison estate, 710 of which were doubled up."

Mr Johnson said: "Scotland's prisons are bursting at the seams as authorities struggle to cope amid a lack of resources from the SNP Government.

"We shouldn't have Victorian-era prisons with overcrowded cells in 2019, it is simply not acceptable.

"The SNP Justice Secretary, Humza Yousaf, must come to Parliament and outline what he will do to end this scandal in our prisons.

"Labour knows that you cannot keep our communities and prisons safe on the cheap and that's why in government we will invest in our public services to end the scandal of doubled-up cells."

A Scottish Prison Service spokesman explained that this was not a new situation and that prisoners in have been in doubled-up cells - particularly at HMP Barlinnie near Glasgow - for decades.

He said: "For at least 20 years prisons have been doubled up in single cells.

"Our aspiration is for one prisoner to one cell, except for in circumstances where it would be better for prisoners to share.

"Prison numbers are what they are, and while we want to get to the stage where each prisoner can have their own cell, yes, many prisoners currently are in doubled-up cells.

"But the reality is that we've had unprecedented investment.

"There has been bigger investment in the last 12-15 years than we have had in our history, allowing us to move away from Victorian-style prison conditions to modern, fit-for-purpose facilities."

He added the Scottish Prison Service's long-term aim was to build a new prison in the Glasgow area.

Figures released last month showed that in December nine of Scotland's 15 prisons were at or above capacity, with HMP Barlinnie operating at 139% capacity and HMP Inverness at 137%.