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Sunday, 28 July, 2002, 13:57 GMT 14:57 UK
Private prison cash probe urged
Kilmarnock prison
Kilmarnock is Scotland's only private jail
Prison officers have called for a public inquiry into the accounts of Scotland's only private jail after allegations about government subsidies.

They said the National Audit Office should look into the funding of Kilmarnock Prison after the Scottish Executive was accused of trying to cover up the subsidies.

Scottish National Party leader John Swinney said the subsidies amounted to 690,698, which was almost 70% of the estimated 1m profit made by Kilmarnock Prison Services in the past two years.

John Swinney
John Swinney: "Hidden subsidies"
"Kilmarnock is the executive's flagship private prison and is the model for their plans to privatise more of our jails," said Mr Swinney.

"They are so obsessed with privatisation that they have been subsidising a private company's profits to the tune of nearly three-quarters of a million pounds simply to make it look more economic.

"The costings for their privatisation plan have been exposed as fantasy and now we have the clearest example yet of profit being put before people."

Now the Scottish Prison Officers Association has called for an inquiry by the National Audit Office.

SPOA assistant secretary Jim Dawson said: "There is a real need for a full and open public inquiry into the true accounts of this facility and it should be carried out by the National Audit Office.

Parliamentary answers

"The public have a right to know what the actual costs are because it's the public that are paying for it."

"And we pay the rates directly because the prison is built on our land."

Mr Swinney said the figures came to light in written parliamentary answers.

They revealed that the executive paid 206,533 to cover Kilmarnock's non-domestic rates in 2000-01, and a further 207,155 last year - a total of 413,689.

Prison wing
The executive wants more private prisons
Another written answer revealed that the executive had paid a total of 277,000 over the past two years to employ a Scottish Prison Service controller and two staff to deal with discipline in the prison.

Kilmarnock Prison's profits in 2000 were 321,000 and have been estimated at 700,000 for 2001.

Mr Swinney added: "These hidden subsidies account for nearly 70% of Kilmarnock's profit.

"In effect, the taxpayer has handed over nearly 700,000 as pure profit to the private operators of Kilmarnock in the past two years alone."

However the executive said these costs were legal obligations and that its employees at Kilmarnock made sure procedures were being followed.

The attack came after it emerged that the executive had received only one favourable response to build up to three new private prisons.

See also:

26 Jul 02 | Scotland
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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