Prisoners found with knives in HMP Edinburgh almost nine times more often than in other jails

Prisoners at Saughton prison are getting access to more knives than in other jails in the area.

By Conor Matchett
Monday, 13th April 2020, 7:30 am
Updated Monday, 13th April 2020, 8:07 am
HMP Edinburgh holds a daily average of around 900 prisoners.

Prisoners in Edinburgh’s main jail are getting access to more knives than in other jails in the area, new figures obtained by the Evening News reveal.

Prisoners in HMP Edinburgh were caught with knives at a rate of almost nine times more than prisoners in HMP Addiewell, statistics obtained from the Scottish Prison Service show.

The Scottish Conservatives said the statistics show that the Scottish Government is failing to provide jails with the correct resources to stop weapons entering prisons, putting staff at risk.

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HMP Addiewell Prison

The Scottish Prison Service said there is a “comprehensive range” of security measures in place to stop weapons entering jails.

In HMP Edinburgh, also known as Saughton, a knife was seized from a prisoner 35 times in 2019 compared to just four times over the same period in HMP Addiewell.

Weapons seized from jails are broken down into different categories including in cell items, such as kettles or other items available in a prisoner’s cell and manufactured weapons where a prisoner creates a weapon from an otherwise safe item.

Other categories include recreation items such as pool cues or a pool ball and so-called regime items which are described as being the property of the prison service.

For ‘manufactured items’, 45 were seized from HMP Addiewell prisoners in 2019 compared to 27 in HMP Edinburgh, making it the most commone item seized across both prisons.

In Saughton, officers seized four ‘coshes’, three metal weapons, and 12 weapons from inside cells.

Only one recreation item reused as a weapon was seized across both prisons, while two regime items were seized from HMP Edinburgh and one from HMP Addiewell.

Three weapons in Saughton were unable to be categorised.

Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary Liam Kerr criticised the SNP for the figures and called for more funding to tackle the problem..

He said: “Far too many weapons are still finding their way into prisons, and it has got to stop. This places an immense pressure on already under-strain, hard-working prison officers.

“The SNP government needs to start providing jails with enough resources to tackle this scourge. Failure to do so puts staff at risk and jeopardises efforts to rehabilitate dangerous criminals.”

A Scottish Prison Service spokeswoman said: “We recognise the importance of providing a safe and secure environment for our staff and those in our care.

“A comprehensive range of robust security measures are in place to prevent the introduction of contraband into our prisons and the recovery of prohibited items within our establishments can be attributed to the professionalism and diligence of our staff and partners.

“Anyone found attempting to introduce contraband into our prisons will be reported to the relevant authorities.”

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