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Wednesday, 11 April, 2001, 16:25 GMT 17:25 UK
Private prisons 'morally repugnant'
Kilmarnock Prison
Kilmarnock Prison is run by Premier Prisons
The operation of private prisons has been likened to "modern day slavery" by the Scottish Trades Union Congress.

The union body has also agreed to press the Scottish Executive to oppose the building of any more of them on Scottish soil.

The Prison Officers Association (Scotland) moved a motion at the STUC's annual congress in Aberdeen condemning private prisons as "morally repugnant".

The motion also said it was wrong to make a profit from someone's incarceration.

Wing at Kilmarnock Prison
Kilmarnock is Scotland's only private prison
Union delegate John Shannon said: "It has become clear that the view of delegates is one of opposition to PFI (Private Finance Initiative), PPP (Public Private Partnership) and other private sector involvement in our public services.

"The private sector prison is driving by dogma rather than a strategy to reduce crime."

Mr Shannon said plans for private prisons, of which HMP Kilmarnock is the only one in Scotland, were not mentioned in election manifestos to the Scottish Parliament.

He said that as a result of union pressure, the executive had agreed to set up a consultation exercise into the issue of privately run jails.

He said: "When the announcement that responses are to be asked for is made, we call on each affiliate to respond to the Scottish Executive and the justice minister to tell them emphatically that prisons are not for profit and the private sector is not the best."

Mr Shannon condemned Moorhouse Prison in Kilmarnock which is run by the private company, Premier Prisons.

Cell at Kilmarnock Prison
The STUC does not want any more private prisons
He said that wages were lower than in the public sector, there was a higher turnover of staff, there was no union representation and there was unacceptable levels of violence towards both staff and prisoners.

The motion which was unanimously passed condemned private prison as: "The equivalent of modern day slavery, where a person is sold to someone else for profit."

It read: "Congress recognises that it is morally repugnant to lock up someone and remove their freedom for the sake of profit."

A Scottish Executive spokesman said: "Our overriding objective is a modern, effective prison system.

"We have made it clear that ministers will only take decisions on the prisons estate review after a period of informed public debate and consultation with those affected."

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