Glasgow & West Scotland

Site purchased to replace Glasgow's Barlinnie prison

Proposed prison site Image copyright Google
Image caption The new prison will be built on land beside Glasgow's Provan gas works

The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) has announced that it has bought a site for a new jail in Glasgow.

The land in the Germiston area will be used to construct a replacement for Barlinnie, which opened in 1882. It has suffered from problems of overcrowding.

SPS said a planning application for the new Glasgow facility had been submitted to the city council.

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

The 22-hectare site being bought by SPS from National Grid is beside Provan gas works.

The purchase is conditional on planning permission being given for the new jail.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Barlinnie has been serving the city of Glasgow since 1882

Overcrowding has been a persistent problem at Barlinnie.

In April 2019, official figures showed the average number of prisoners there was 1,449. Its official capacity is 987.

When he gave evidence to a committee of MSPs last year, Mr Yousaf agreed that Barlinnie's facilities were not acceptable.

Ministerial visit

The minister said he had 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."

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Barlinnie's 19th Century origins are clear in many of its facilities

SPS chief executive Colin McConnell told the same Holyrood committee he was hopeful a new jail could be open by 2025.

"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," he said.

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

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 prison history

According to the SPS website, work on Barlinnie started after land was purchased to the east of Glasgow in 1879.

  • In 1882, A Hall was commissioned, followed by B Hall in 1883 and C Hall in 1887
  • A house for a chaplain and doctor were built outside the prison gate in 1888, with link corridors between the halls constructed two years later
  • D Hall was commissioned in 1892, with a chapel completed the following year. E Hall was completed within an extended perimeter in 1896
  • Between 1972 and 1994, the Special Unit was operated in what had been the female block, intended to encourage the rehabilitation of prisoners

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