Page last updated at 10:47 GMT, Tuesday, 6 October 2009 11:47 UK

Talks on prison site near campus

Inside Inverness Prison
Porterfield has been called one of Scotland's most overcrowded jails

A site close to a retail park and a proposed new education campus has been identified as a possible location for a new prison for Inverness.

Porterfield, near the city's centre, has had problems with overcrowding.

The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), which owns the land at Beechwood, have had initial discussions about the plan.

The SPS said the site behind Inverness Retail Park was one of a number being assessed by its consultants.

A spokesman said: "I can confirm that this site is of interest to SPS but it is at a very early stage and there are a number of major hurdles to be cleared before determining whether the new prison might be located there."

Beechwood lies on the eastern outskirts of Inverness and is bordered by the A96 and A9 roads.

If it goes ahead, the new prison would be separated by a railway line from HIE's planned campus.

The enterprise agency has forecast that the campus could create up to 6,000 jobs by 2030 and generate more than £38m a year for the local economy.

UHI - the prospective university of the Highlands and Islands - along with Inverness College, the Scottish Agricultural College and businesses could move into site.

Last year, Inverness Prison was described as one of the most overcrowded in Scotland.

The then HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Dr Andrew McLellan, said a new prison for the Highlands was needed.

He reported inmates sleeping on mattresses on cell floors and female prisoners having little to do.

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