Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Alison McInnes has said that the Justice Secretary must set out the next steps for female prisoners at HMP & YOI Cornton Vale.
During Topical Questions in the Scottish Parliament today, Ms McInnes commended the decision to scrap HMP and YOI Inverclyde, but warned that serious shortcomings in mental health treatment and the use of solitary confinement at the existing Cornton Vale show that swift action is needed in lieu of a clear alternative unit.
While the Justice Secretary accepted the need for action on the use of solitary confinement, he did not update parliament on plans to improve Cornton Vale or the timeframe by which an alternative solution would be put in place.
Speaking after topical questions, Ms McInnes said:
“The decision to scrap HMP Inverclyde, although welcome, does not deal with the immediate shortcomings in Cornton Vale.
“The Mental Welfare Commission has identified gaps in the provision of mental health services and the Committee for prevention of torture and inhumane treatment has criticised the lack of appropriate facilities. Serious concerns also remain over the use of solitary confinement, where figures showed one woman had been held in isolation on six occasions over a 17 month period, for a period totalling 387 days.
“The Justice Secretary must provide clear leadership on the next steps for female prisoners at Cornton Vale, including a clear timetable for closure. In the interim, swift action is also needed to improve the conditions and support services at Cornton Vale, which still fall behind what is acceptable. I will continue to press the Justice Secretary for further detail on the way forward.”