Tayside and Central Scotland

Prison officers campaign to save Noranside prison

Noranside Prison. Pic copyright Kevin Raistrick and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence
Image caption A final decision on the prison's future has not yet been taken

Prison officers have launched a campaign to save one of Scotland's two open jails from closure.

The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) has said it wants to shut Noranside in Angus as a cost-cutting measure as it is operating well below capacity.

However, unions representing staff working there said the move would threaten valuable efforts to prevent those leaving prison from re-offending.

They also claimed closure would not result in significant savings.

Unions said staff would have to be redeployed and the remaining open jail, Castle Huntly near Dundee, would require major investment to accommodate extra prisoners.

The SPS has said that there will be no compulsory redundancies if the jail is closed.

Tightened rules

Noranside Prison is currently operating at 65% capacity. Its future has been in doubt since the Scottish government announced cuts in justice spending in its last budget.

The jail has not been full since the Scottish government ordered a tightening of the rules on open prisons in the wake of the Robert Foye case in 2008.

Foye raped a 16-year-old schoolgirl in Cumbernauld after absconding from Castle Huntly, while serving a sentence for attempting to murder a police officer.

The SPS said a final decision on the prison's future would be taken in February.

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