Pressure on Justice Minister to act on prison row

Jo has sent her petition against “HMP Bishopbriggs”, with more than 3000 signatures, to the Justice Minister urging him to press the SPS to publish the NSCJA’s three suggested prison names.

NSCJA Convenor Douglas Yates has confirmed that he sent three suggestions to the Scottish Prison Service by the set deadline of 24th April, however the SPS made no comment. In a letter to Kenny MacAskill MSP, Jo urged him to call on the SPS to make the three names public. Mr. MacAskill has so far refused to get involved in the matter, passing all correspondence to the SPS, who are also refusing to respond to Jo’s letters on the issue.

Commenting, Jo said:

“I can see no good reason why the SPS should not make these names public. They have so far failed to fulfill their repeated promises to engage with local people on the matter, and I believe publishing the names would be one way of reassuring the people of Bishopbriggs that their views are being listened to. Since the SPS are refusing to acknowledge my representations on behalf of my constituents, I hope that Kenny MacAskill will show some leadership, as it is beginning to look like no one is willing to take responsibility for this matter.”

The text of Jo’s letter to Kenny MacAskill appears below:

Kenny MacAskill MSP

The Scottish Parliament


EH99 1SP

6th May 2009

Publishing of NSCJA prison name suggestions

As I’m sure you will know, the Scottish Prison Service recently asked the North Strathclyde Community Justice Authority (NSCJA) to suggest three names for the new prison on the site of HMP Low Moss. I strongly urge you to call on the SPS to publish these suggestions.

Until recently the only comment from the SPS on the matter of the prison name has been that a decision on this will not be made for three years, so I hope the fact that they have taken this action is an indication that they have finally decided that this issue merits more urgent attention. Councillor Douglas Yates, the Convenor of the NSCJA, has confirmed to me that he sent three suggestions to the SPS by the set deadline of Friday 24th April. In my previous letter to you, dated 9th April 2009, I informed you that the SPS has refused to correspond with me on this matter. I am still waiting for a response to this letter explaining how you expect the SPS to treat my correspondence. In the meantime, I would urge you to press the SPS to publish the three suggested names from the NSCJA.

I believe that making these suggestions public would be very helpful in reassuring my constituents that they are being listened to on the issue of the prison name. As the SPS has thus far failed to back up its repeated promises to engage with the local community on this matter, some indication that local people’s views are being considered would come as a relief to all those concerned. In order to demonstrate the strength of local feeling, I have attached the names of more than 3000 people who have signed my petition against the naming of the prison as “HMP Bishopbriggs”.

Thank you for your assistance in this matter and I look forward to hearing from you shortly.

Yours sincerely,

Jo Swinson MP

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