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Last Updated: Friday, 14 October 2005, 15:27 GMT 16:27 UK
Prison overcrowding 'unchanged'
Prison cell
Prisoners are locked in their cells too much, the inspector said.
A prison criticised by inspectors last year has failed to address major concerns such as overcrowding.

Chief Inspector of Prisons, Dr Andrew McLellan, said many of the issues raised when he visited HMP Aberdeen in 2004 had not been resolved.

Dr McLellan's follow-up report said overcrowding was still "the most damaging issue confronting the prison".

The Scottish Prison Service said the construction of new prisons would ease the burden at the jail.

Dr McLellan said many inmates were locked in their cells with little opportunity for work or activity and there was little provision for learning.

Negative effect

Dr McLellan said: "Many of the prison services have been going through a period of transition and problems maintaining standards through change-over periods have had a negative effect.

"For example, prisoners are not offered enough meaningful activity.

We are planning to build two new prisons which will ease the burden
Scottish Prison Service spokeswoman

"There are plans to change this but, at the time of inspection, prisoners were spending long periods of time locked in their cells as new opportunities for work were not in place and previous opportunities in the joiners' shop were no longer available."

Other facilities at the prison were also criticised, with the visit room, reception area and health centre all described as being unfit for purpose.

But the report also praised the efforts of prison staff, with all inmates saying they felt safe.

The prison was further commended for being clean and tidy and for the redecoration of the women's unit.

However, while inmate numbers had dropped from 222 at the time of last year's inspection to 210 at the follow-up in June this year, prisoners were still sharing cells.

'Ease overcrowding'

The report found that staff did not have time for inmates and facilities such as the visit room were overstretched.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Prison Service said: "In terms of overcrowding, it is not just an issue isolated to Aberdeen. We are planning to build two new prisons which will ease the burden."

While there have been two suicides at the jail since the last inspection, fatal accident inquiries found that HMP Aberdeen was not at fault and there had been no escapes in the last year.

The justice minister and the Scottish Prison Service have had a year to put these things right, but have failed to do so
Brian Adam
SNP MSP

The inspection of Aberdeen was a follow-up inspection with a focus on conditions in which prisoners live and how they are treated.

Scottish National Party MSP for Aberdeen North, Brian Adam, said it was extremely disappointing that many of the problems remained unresolved.

He said: "The overcrowding and the limited availability to provide education and purposeful activity for prisoners puts a strain on them and the staff and leaves very little opportunity for rehabilitation.

"The justice minister and the Scottish Prison Service have had a year to put these things right, but have failed to do so."

He said action was needed immediately to put things right.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Hear about the overcrowding problem in prisons



SEE ALSO:
Prison report overcrowding fears
27 Sep 05 |  Scotland
'Concern' over child jail numbers
01 Jul 05 |  Scotland
Prisons 'fail' long-term inmates
16 May 05 |  Scotland
Savings 'making prisons unsafe'
06 Oct 04 |  Scotland
Fresh concern over prison safety
12 Aug 04 |  Scotland


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