Page last updated at 09:41 GMT, Wednesday, 1 October 2008 10:41 UK

Sex inmates 'needing more help'

Peterhead Prison
Peterhead Prison was criticised in Dr McLellan's report

High-risk sex offenders at Peterhead Prison are in danger of being released without having addressed their behaviour, a report has warned.

The accommodation in cells is also the worst in the Scottish Prison Service and a form of slopping out still exists, it was also claimed.

Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland, Dr Andrew McLellan, published the report.

A new prison, HMP Grampian, is to be built in Peterhead.

The Scottish Prison Service said more sex offender programmes were completed during 2007/08 than ever before.

Dr McLellan said the number of prisoners completing the prison's programme designed specifically to tackle sex offending behaviour had increased slightly. However, he said there were long waiting lists and demand was not being met.

Andrew McLellan
Prisoners who have been convicted of serious sex offences are the very prisoners who should get the best possible preparation for release
Dr Andrew McLellan
Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland
Dr McLellan, referring to the earlier HMP Grampian announcement, said: "Uncertainty about the future of the prison has now been ended.

He said: "Previous reports have commented on the damage done to HMP Peterhead by continuing uncertainty. One aspect of that damage has been the lack of investment over the last five years at least.

"Now that a new prison has been announced, it is even less likely that more money will be spent on the existing building: Yet its condition continues to deteriorate and prisoners continue to live in it."

'Worst feature'

He added: "The continuing use of chemical toilets is the most obvious sign of lack of investment in the prison building.

"Peterhead is the only prison in the United Kingdom where prisoners have no access to toilets when locked in their cells. Its continuation remains the worst single feature of prisons in Scotland."

Dr McLellan said: "Previous reports have criticised the preparation for release of prisoners at Peterhead. The criticism has been - and continues to be - in two forms.

Barbed wire
A new "super-jail" is to be built in Peterhead to replace two prisons
"One is the absence of community placements which would allow some testing in the community before prisoners are released. The other is about the small number of prisoners who participate in the the programme designed to address the offending behaviour of sex offenders.

"The number of places on the programme available at Peterhead can do nothing to address the number of prisoners waiting to participate.

"Prisoners who have been convicted of serious sex offences are the very prisoners who should get the best possible preparation for release.

"They are still the prisoners who get the worst preparation for release."

He also said there were very limited opportunities to engage in purposeful work or activities.

There were 55 liberations from the prison during 2007/08 matched against 52 completed programmes which suggests reasonable provision
Scottish Prison Service spokesman

Dr McLellan said some small improvements had been made to the visits facility and prisoners were often able to have visits over and above their statutory entitlement.

However, he said the visits room itself was very small and cramped and the catering facilities for visitors were poor.

He added that some improvements had been made to health care provision.

A Scottish Prison Service spokesman said: "The report highlights areas of previous concern at Peterhead and which were focused upon in this short inspection.

"The SPS has invested over 400,000 at Peterhead in recent years but has limited spend to ensure value for money in advance of a decision on the future of the prison and its life span."

'Great concern'

He said Peterhead delivered 52 completed sex offender programmes during 2007/08, adding this was the highest ever and a significant increase on preceding years when 42,42 and 38 were completed.

He added: "There were 55 liberations from the prison during 2007/08 matched against 52 completed programmes which suggests reasonable provision."

Labour justice spokesman Richard Baker said: "This is of great concern to the public. People are extremely anxious that sex offenders will be back in the community without treatment and will pose a bigger risk."

Conservative justice spokesman Bill Aitken said: "It is extremely concerning that sex offenders are not getting the treatment they desperately need before we can even consider returning them back into civilised society."

The new HMP Grampian "super-jail" will hold hundreds of inmates, replacing the ageing Victorian-era prisons in Peterhead and Aberdeen.

The Scottish Government has pledged to ensure it is a "world-class" facility.

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05 Sep 02 |  Scotland

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