A north-east MSP has called for action to crack down on inmates who arm themselves at the north-east’s new super-jail.
Earlier this year, 40 prisoners went on the rampage at the £140million HMP Grampian complex.
Now it has emerged that so far this year staff have made eight seizures of illegal weapons, compared to six for both Peterhead and Aberdeen prisons – which HMP Grampian replaced – during the whole of last year.
Labour MSP Richard Baker said the increase in weapons finds must be taken alongside the fact HMP Grampian only opened in March and was half empty due to safety concerns.
“There are more weapons seized in HMP Grampian than there were in HMP Peterhead and Craiginches combined, even with fewer prisoners and a shorter timescale, which suggests that is an area which must be of concern,” he said.
“The Scottish Prison Service must say why they believe there have been a higher number of incidents of weapons being seized and what they are going to do to bring down that figure.
“After all, if you have a situation where prisoners have armed themselves it can be very dangerous for prison staff.”
Tom Fox, head of corporate affairs at the Scottish Prison Service, said it was not right to compare HMP Grampian with its predecessors because the populations were different.
Mr Fox said most of the weapons would be “improvised”, and that given the extra money spent on security he would be “astonished” if illegal items were not found.
“The change in the population may be a contributory factor to the numbers but it may also be down to the enhanced security procedures we have in place,” Mr Fox said.
“I don’t think the evidence at this stage is cause for the type of concern being suggested.”