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MSP's call to end private jail contract

A call to take Scotland's only private jail back into public ownership was made today.

The move comes after it was revealed more prisoners there were sharing cells and staff turnover was increasing.

Nationalist MSP Alex Neil said new figures prove Kilmarnock Prison is run for profit and not public safety.

He was speaking after a report by Chief Inspector of Prisons, Andrew McLellan, revealed a "very high" staff turnover rising to almost 19% from 14% last year, and an increasing number of short-term and remand prisoners sharing cells.

It's been revealed that the the prison population has riosen to 587, meaning that 92 cells are being shared.

The staffing shortage is despite efforts to increase pay, improve benefits, reduce contracted hours, the

payment of bonuses for extra training or skills and the creation of a staff support group.

Overall, however, staffing has improved with a rise from 292 to 325 and the report praises officers for their positive approach to problem solving.

Mr Neil, a long-term critic of the prison, was highly critical of Premier Prisons which own and run it.

He said: "Kilmarnock prison has been a disaster area run purely for profit and not for public safety.

"These figures on staff turnover and doubling up of prisoners in single cells gives the lie to the claims that private prisons are better run.

"The quicker this contract is terminated and the prison brought into there public sector the better."

The report indicates there have been fewer reported incidents of prisoner-on-prisoner violence, there were signs that programmes for addressing drug addiction were also improving.

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