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Friday, 26 July, 2002, 13:04 GMT 14:04 UK
Snub for jail closure plans
Peterhead Prison
Closure plans have sparked controversy
The result of a Scottish Executive consultation exercise over plans to close Peterhead Prison has, in its own words, not thrown up any surprises.

Of the 78 organisations consulted, only one said the prison, which specialises in treating sex offenders, should close.

The executive is currently examining proposals contained within the Prisons Estates Review which called for closure as part of wide ranging review of Scotland's prison system.

Ministers have yet to respond to the review, which also proposes the creation of three new private jails, with a projected saving of 700m.

Jim Wallace
Jim Wallace has defended the need for change

The review has caused controversy with critics contesting the project's cost and its viability.

An executive spokesman said it would give its response in due course.

"The fact that the overwhelming number of people who responded on the issue of Peterhead have supported it staying open is not surprising to ministers, given the feeling they encountered during the consultation exercise," he said.

"Ministers said when they spoke to the Peterhead campaigners that they would get responses in and consider the responses carefully before deciding how to proceed, and that is the stage we are at."

Critics of the proposal allege that closure would trigger a sharp rise in sex crimes.

'Out of touch'

Previously, Justice Minister Jim Wallace said that while some prisoners had also said they would prefer to remain at Peterhead, it should not be "a determining factor".

But the Scottish National Party has criticised the executive over the consultation and accused Mr Wallace of being "blinkered to reality".

A party spokesman said: "Jim Wallace is totally out of touch with public opinion and the people of Peterhead.

"He is the only person in Scotland who wants to close Peterhead Prison and he has used half-truths, misleading information and figures that don't add up to try and justify his decision."

See also:

02 Jul 02 | Scotland
06 Jun 02 | Scotland
05 Jun 02 | Scotland
30 May 02 | Scotland
23 May 02 | Scotland
14 May 02 | Scotland
16 Apr 02 | Scotland
15 Apr 02 | Scotland
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