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Thursday, 2 May, 2002, 14:04 GMT 15:04 UK
Report hails prison investment
Perth Prison
Conditions for short-term prisoners were criticised
Government inspectors have welcomed progress on improving conditions at a Scottish jail which suffered "many years of neglect".

An official report from HM Chief inspector of Prisons Clive Fairweather praised recent investment at Perth Prison.

He and his team said they were particularly impressed by the "professionalism and dedication" of staff at the jail.

But he also criticised the conditions experienced by short-term prisoners housed in the prison's 'C' Hall.

Clive Fairweather
Clive Fairweather praised prison staff

Mr Fairweather said that the previous inspection in 1997 had found that improvements were starting to be made to accommodation areas at the prison after the years of neglect.

"Over subsequent years these improvements had taken place, such that on this latest occasion, it was hard to recognise Perth as the same prison which was inspected five years ago (with the notable exception of 'C' Hall)," he said.

"We were particularly impressed by the professionalism and dedication of staff throughout the prison."

He praised the fall in the number of suicides and levels of violence at the jail, as well as a substantial reduction in overcrowding.

He said remand prisoners now experienced "a much more imaginative and structured regime" at Perth and hailed a new segregation unit as "quite excellent".

Restructuring 'overdue'

But he added that conditions in the redecorated 'C' Hall were "unacceptable".

"Its old gallery structure, total lack of integral sanitation and in-cell electrical power, indicate that fundamental restructuring is long overdue," he said.

Mr Fairweather said the inspection team had been encouraged by efforts directed at helping to reduce crime, particularly when it came to sentence management and offending behaviour programmes.

He said the regime for prisoners in Friarton Hall, where they were preparing for open conditions, was satisfactory.

Offending behaviour

New work sheds installed at Friarton were described as "excellent" - although those in the main prison were "dated".

But he concluded: "Our main concern centres around short-term prisoners.

"Not only are they housed in unacceptable conditions, they have little opportunity by way of programmes to address their offending behaviour - especially drug misuse.

"This should be of concern to the local community."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Scotland's Alan Grant reports
"The report said it had shown significant progress in many areas"
See also:

18 Apr 02 | Scotland
Ministers face prisons revolt
28 Feb 02 | Scotland
Prisoners given business training
13 Jan 02 | Scotland
Prisons chief to be replaced
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