Kevin Hutchens, Scottish Labour Party Scottish Parliamentary candidate for Angus North and the Mearns, called for clarity from the Scottish Government as to who was ultimately responsible for any decision regarding the proposed closure of Noranside Open Prison.
“I have great sympathy for the case being put by the Prison Officers Association and I wish them well in their representations to the Scottish Government to save Noranside.
“However, I remain concerned at the apparent lack of clarity regarding the decision making process.
“It appears from recent reports that the Scottish National Party representatives in Forfar see all the responsibility for the decision regarding Noranside as resting with the Scottish Prison Service and its board.
“However, this does not account for the fact that the Scottish Government are clearly looking for savings of £104 million on the prisons budget through what are described as “efficiency savings. Neither does it account for the fact that the board of the Scottish Prisons Service are not only appointed by Kenny MacAskill, the Justice Secretary, but are ultimately accountable to him, Indeed on their website they describe themselves as an agency of the Scottish Government.
“What I am particularly concerned about is that, in all this discussion about the possibility of the closure of Noranside, I have seen no evidence of an economic impact assessment being carried out.
“I am therefore writing to Kenny MacAskill asking for a full audit trail of how the decision making process is being dealt with regarding Noranside and to provide evidence of any economic impact assessment that may have taken place.
“I feel sure that while the SNP may wish to deny responsibility if Noranside is closed they will want to take all the praise as the Scottish Government if it is saved.”