Glasgow & West Scotland

New Barlinnie prison expected to be ready by 2025

Barlinnie Prison Image copyright PA
Image caption HMP Barlinnie opened in 1882

A replacement for Glasgow's Barlinnie Prison is expected by 2025.

Holyrood's Justice Committee heard a deal to buy the land is in its final stages and will be fully funded by the Scottish government.

Plans to sell the current site, which opened in 1882, and re-locate to another area in the city or its surroundings were announced last year.

Overcrowding is a major problem in Barlinnie and in April the 987-capacity jail had a population of 1,449.

The current prison will be replaced by a new state-of-the art facility.

A site next to Provan Gasworks, owned by National Grid Partnerships, has been earmarked for the development.

Colin McConnell, chief executive of the Scottish Prison Service, told MSPs: "We're in the final knockings, the final stages to buy the land on which to build the new Barlinnie."

Mr McConnell also put a date on the development.

He said: "I'm delighted to say that the Scottish government has given us every indication that the forward plan for Barlinnie, now that we effectively have somewhere to build it, will be fully funded.

"We expect, with a fair wind, that we should have a new Barlinnie by the end of 2024, perhaps 2025."

'Complex'

Mr McConnell, however, cautioned the committee against sticking too close to the 2025 deadline, saying "uncertainties in the marketplace" could result in the project taking longer to build.

A presentation was made to ministers in 2011 for the replacement of Barlinnie and work has been ongoing since then to secure a suitable site on which to build.

Mr McConnell said: "It would be easy to simply point the finger at the Scottish government and perhaps ourselves and see we're clearly not very good at what we're doing.

"But as ever, it's more complex than that.

"It has actually taken us that length of time to identify a site that someone was prepared to sell us and which we thought was suitable to buy.

"Here we are, eight years down the line and it's taken us that length of time to get a site."

'Grave concern'

Mr McConnell said it took 10 years to secure a site for HMP Highland.

He added: "It's not like ourselves and the Scottish government have been sitting on our hands waiting for some magic pixie dust to come in and solve everything. These things take an incredible amount of time."

In a later session, Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said he had "grave concern" about the current state of Barlinnie.

The minister has asked officials to do some interim work to improve conditions in the jail.

He added: "I'm happy once we've done that piece of work - we're in the middle of doing it - to provide the committee with a bit more detail.

"Because I have visited Barlinnie and I am not satisfied that it meets our expectations of what we would expect in relation to the prison estate."

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