A video link system could save Aberdeen Sheriff Court “significant” money and time, according to Scotland’s chief inspector of prisons.
Wendy Sinclair-Gieben is convinced the Granite City court could greatly benefit from a video link system to improve its safety risks.
She said: “Travelling back and forth from Peterhead and waiting at the prison can take nearly seven hours, all for what is sometimes a ten-minute court appearance.
“A lot of time could be saved with prisoners appearing for court via a video link, and its not as expensive as ferrying people to and from the court building.
“I’m not sure why the system isn’t used more widely, there certainly seems to be reluctance.
“Some think is important for people to be represented in person.”
Ms Sinclair-Gieben was speaking on the back of a damming report into the condition of Aberdeen Sheriff Court’s custody unit (CUU).
Concerns were raised by inspectors about the unit’s narrow corridors, graffiti-strewn toilets and lack of provision for non-English speakers.
Ms Sinclair-Gieben said: “These problems were specific to Aberdeen.
“The bathrooms were the biggest issue – it was unacceptable the level of inappropriate conditions those on the unit were forced to use.
“All of the issues highlighted in the inspection report could easily be rectified by the use of more video links.”
A Scottish Courts spokesman said: “There is an existing project in place managing the roll-out of the equipment required for VC links – from courts to prisons – and that option is now available in 33 of the 39 sheriff courts, including Aberdeen.
“We will be working with the Scottish Prison Service to gradually expand the range of hearings that can be undertaken by video.”