Smaller women’s prison to replace Cornton Vale



Michael Matheson
Michael Matheson

A new women’s prison, catering for just 80 offenders, is to be built to replace Scotland’s only female jail at Cornton Vale in Stirling, the justice secretary has announced.

Michael Matheson, who scrapped plans for a new 300-cell jail in Inverclyde in January, said a new small national prison will be created, alongside five smaller community-based custodial units each accommodating up to 20 women across the country.

The smaller community-based custodial units will provide accommodation as women serve out their sentence, with access to intensive support to help overcome issues such as alcohol, drugs, mental health and domestic abuse trauma which evidence shows can often be a driver of offending behaviour. The units will be located in areas close to the communities of female offenders so that family contact can be maintained.

The proposals are to be backed by capital investment of up to £82 million, with additional annual resource costs made available to ensure women both in custody and in the community are able to access key services.

Speaking during a visit to the acclaimed 218 centre in Glasgow, Mr Matheson said: “When I announced in January my decision not to proceed with HMP Inverclyde as a large national prison for women, I said that it did not fit with my vision of how a modern and progressive country should be addressing female offending and that we needed a bolder, more radical and ambitious approach in Scotland.

“Following a period of intensive dialogue with our own experts in Scotland as well as international experts from across the world, I’m pleased to announce a new approach to how we deal with female offenders.”

It was announced that Cornton Vale would be closed down following a report into how best to deal with female offenders by former Lord Advocate Dame Elish Angiolini.