Call to replace jail after ageing building leaves cells flooded

Numerous cells out of use at the 114-year-old Greenock prison

Call to replace jail after ageing building leaves cells flooded Google Maps

One of Scotland’s oldest jails should be “replaced in the very near future” over an “unsuitable living and working environment”.

HMP Greenock, which was first opened in 1907, has however been praised over its response to the Covid-19 pandemic after a visit by inspectors earlier this year.

HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland visited the site in March and, despite reporting many positives with how the jail is run, urged a rapid replacement in the “very near future”.

The HMIP’s main concern was over the ageing infrastructure and design of the building after flooding left several cells unusable.

It is currently operating at only 75% of its capacity as a result of the conditions.

Inspectors visited the site as part of a report into how jails are coping with keeping prisoners and staff safe during the coronavirus outbreak.

And staff were praised over their management of the situation, including with regular testing and continued access to mental health services.

The staff-prisoner relationships and community links built up by the prison over the years were also praised.

As a result of this, the report, part of a programme of liaison visits carried out earlier this year, said it would be better to replace rather than close the jail.

It said: “The benefits of HMP Greenock, including the good staff-prisoner relationships and community links would be lost by simple closure even if the prison population were to reduce to manageable proportions.

“We would instead like to urge that a cost effective alternative solution is rapidly developed to replace HMP Greenock in the very near future as opposed to sinking further significant funds to enable HMP Greenock to limp along for another ten years.”

The full report can be read here.