Call for new Greenock prison timescale

Inverclyde Council Leader has called on the Cabinet Secretary for Justice to provide a timescale for the building of a new prison in Greenock.

The call comes following a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland of the 114 year old prison highlighted the need for an urgent replacement.

Now, Councillor Stephen McCabe has written to Keith Brown MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Justice, seeking a firm timescale for replacing the prison on land purchased from the council 10 years ago for a replacement.

He said: “The inspection of Greenock Prison was damning in its verdict of the prison building and full of praise for the hard working, dedicated staff.  HM Chief Inspector of Prisons is clear that a replacement is needed much sooner than the current timescale.  The staff at the prison are being let down by the building and it is crucially important that a new prison is commissioned urgently.

“Plans have been in place, changed and dropped altogether to the point where there is no clarity about the new prison and what is happening with the land sold by the council for a replacement.  I have written to the cabinet secretary to secure a firm timescale on when that will be following this inspection.” 

The letter reads:

Dear Cabinet Secretary,


You will no doubt be aware of the above inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland where the Inspectorate indicated that its ‘main concern relates to the ageing infrastructure and design of HMP Greenock and the unsuitable living and working environment created by the poor fabric of the building. Significant water ingress, numerous cells out of commission, and the state of some of the safer and annex cells indicates an urgent need to address the issue and provide a full replacement fit for the 21st Century penology. 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 10 years’. 

In recognition of the above recommendation by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland, I would ask on behalf of Inverclyde Council, that the Scottish Government confirms the timescale for replacing HMP Greenock on the site purchased from the Council in Greenock 10 years ago by the Scottish Prison Service.