2009 news

Tories call for compulsory drug-testing for Scottish prisoners
19 December 2009
NINE out of ten people want to see prisoners tested for drugs while they are in jail, the Conservatives said yesterday.

An opinion poll for the Tories, carried out by YouGov, found 91 per cent of people questioned agreed inmates should undergo mandatory drug-testing.

The Tory party has repeatedly called for action to tackle the drugs problem inside Scotland's jails, including mandatory drug tests. Recent figures showed that drugs were found in prisons 1,705 times between 1 January and 23 November.

The party's community safety spokesman, John Lamont, said: "Something clearly has to be done. All prisoners should be subjected to a drugs test upon their arrival in jail. This testing must be comprehensive, robust and consistent.

"We should be helping prisoners get off drugs, rather than providing an environment for drugs to flourish. We must work harder to help addicts recover and send them on the path to abstinence."

He repeated Conservative demands for all prisons to have drug-free wings, where offenders who want to get clean can get help. And he said "robust measures" should be taken against anyone supplying drugs to prisoners.

"The benefits to society will be great if we find the political will to take this task on," said Mr Lamont. "Lower reoffending, less crime and a safer prison environment. It will be good for addicts, good for their families and good for society as a whole, because so much crime in Scotland is fuelled by drugs."

However, a Scottish Prison Service spokesman said: "Why have mandatory drugs tests when we already know that over 75 per cent of prisoners arriving in jail test positive for drugs?

"There is no incentive to conceal it and every incentive to reveal it.

"Mandatory drug-testing and drug-free areas have been tried. The experience of SPS staff suggests the most effective efforts are those focused on those who want to be helped."

16 December 2009
Report hits out at vulnerable prisoners' regime
Deficiencies remain in the Northern Ireland prison regime, an inspection of the treatment of vulnerable prisoners has found. Inspectors found the daily regime for vulnerable prisoners had changed little between an inspection in January and a follow-up visit in the summer.

The latest inspection was ordered after the death of prisoner Colin Bell in Maghaberry jail in August 2008. select for full story It found "inconsistent assessment and monitoring of prisoners at risk".

The inspection report was compiled at the request of Northern Ireland Criminal Justice Minister Paul Goggins.


It tracked the progress made by the Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS) in implementing recommendations made in January 2009 by the Prisoner Ombudsman for Northern Ireland in her report into the death in custody of Colin Bell.

select for full story Another prisoner killed themselves in Maghaberry's healthcare unit in August which lead to the suspension of four members of staff.

Dr Michael Maguire, NI Criminal Justice chief inspector, said the Prison Service had taken action to reduce the risk of suicide in prison cells.

Colin Bell was found dead in 2008  >  

"Staff members have been made aware of the issues arising from the death of Colin Bell, safer custody teams have been introduced and staff training has been improved.

"Yet, despite this positive activity, this report shows there is a continuing gap between the NIPS's stated intention and the delivery on-the-ground of meaningful outcomes for prisoners, especially at Maghaberry Prison, where the majority of prisoners at risk are located," he said.

The report found the Prison Service has worked hard to deliver "the letter of many recommendations" but there is much room for improvement

Scottish Prison Service to procure 35m Shotts prison Phase II
18 December, 2009 | By Michael Lane
The Scottish Prison Service intends to procure a 35 million design and build contract for Phase II of the replacement prison at Shotts, Lanarkshire.

Detailed planning permission for the entire redevelopment has already been obtained. Carillion are currently working on Phase I, which was awarded in 2008 and due for completion in Spring 2011.

A contract notice is expected on OJEU on 6 February.

Prison bosses forced to pay damages to jailed paedophile over toothache
Dec 13 2009 Charlie Gall, Sunday Mail
A SEX beast has won a cash payout from prison bosses who couldn't find a dentist to treat his toothache.

Paedophile Neil Robertson launched the compensation claim from his cell in Peterhead Prison, it emerged yesterday.

He blamed prison chiefs for failing to find an NHS dentist to treat his toothache and sued the Scottish Prison Service over a delay in treatment.

He has now received an out-of-court settlement.

Robertson, 44, from Ayrshire, was jailed for life in 2003 for abusing a seven-year-old girl.

He met the girl's mother through an internet chat room and wormed his way into her affections by pretending he had been a pilot, a businessman and qualified psychologist.

He quickly turned his attention to the youngster and within weeks he was taking photographs of himself abusing the girl.

Robertson was described by the judge at his trial in Dunfermline, as a "dangerous psychopath" with a 20-year interest in young girls.

The payout has been agreed at a time when Aberdeenshire has one of the longest UK waiting lists of people seeking an NHS dentist.

Furious Lesley Wood, 22, a nursery assistant from Aberdeen, has been without an NHS dentist for six years.

She condemned the payout, saying: "It's totally out of order. People are paying for emergency treatment and he's getting our money. All his teeth should be ripped out after what he did."

Shadow justice spokesman and north-east Labour MSP Richard Baker described the settlement as "extraordinary".

He said: "This is public money and people rightly find compensation payments to prisoners offensive. It is a sad irony that many people have problems getting access to dental treatment but now this prisoner has sought compensation for dental pain.

Policewoman and prison officer charged in prison smuggling conspiracy
10:34am Wednesday 9th December 2009
select for full story FIVE people have been charged in connection with an alleged conspiracy to smuggle items into jail.

The charges follow an investigation by the Met's directorate of professional standards in conjunction with officers from the London prison anti-corruption team and the stolen vehicle unit.

PC Hayley Cloud, aged 26, who works in Lewisham but is currently suspended, has been charged with five offences including misconduct in a public office and conspiracy to steal.

Natalie Ricketts, aged 26, has been charged with conspiracy to commit misconduct, conspiracy to steal, acts capable of encouraging or assisting the commission of misconduct and theft.

Ricketts was a police worker in Bexley before resigning in June.

Prison officer Ian Cooper, aged 33, has been charged with five offences including conspiracy to cause misconduct and conspiracy to convey articles into prison.

Thomas King, aged 26, of Main Road, Sutton-at-Hone, is accused of nine offences including two counts of possession with intent to supply Class A drugs.

One other man, 32-year-old prisoner Robert Talbot, of no fixed address, has been charged with five offences including conspiracy to convey articles into prison.

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