Utility bills have soared at Scottish prisons over the last financial year – with an annual increase of more than 20%.
Figures released under freedom of information legislation show that between April 2011 and March the following year a total of £2,797,170.36 was spent on gas and electricity in all 14 of the country’s jails.
However, during the same period the following year, the costs increased by a total of £726,746.15 to more than £3.5million.
Last night, a spokeswoman from the Scottish Prison Service said it, in common with other public services, had suffered in the current economic climate.
She said nothing substantial had changed in the running of the prisons to account for the increase in utility bills, other than the rise in energy costs.
However, she added that the change in the running of the overall jails estate often had an impact on the bills.
She said that as the figures did not fall within the timescale of the construction of HMP Grampian this should not have been a contributing factor.
The figures, obtained by the Press and Journal, were broken down into how much was spent each month in each prison.
In January this year, the bill totalled £370,990.49 – an increase of more than £115,245 on the previous year.
Spending at Inverness and Aberdeen prisons remained among the lowest in the country.
At Craiginches, the average monthly spend on utilities increased by about £1,200, taking it from about £7,500 to just more than £8,700.
And in Inverness the average monthly bills only increased by £500, taking them from just more than £4,500 to £5,127.
At Peterhead Prison monthly went up by about £4,000 on average.
In 2011-12 bills at Barlinnie in Glasgow, the costliest prison, totalled £395,483.68, £28,129 less than in the following year.
At the young offenders institution at Polmont, energy bills soared to £371,724 in the last financial year compared to £343,902 in 2011-12.