Fury over prison chiefs’ £140m vision of jail “holiday camp”

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LOOKING more like a seaside holiday camp than a high-security jail, this is what prison chiefs are planning for some of Scotland’s most dangerous sex offenders.

Rapists and murderers will be free to enjoy their choice of football pitches, open green spaces, and sea breezes at newly-rebuilt Peterhead prison.

The notorious jail’s 300 inmates have included limbs-in-the-loch killer William Beggs, who raped and murdered a teenager before chopping up his body.

Incredibly, jail bosses are splashing out around £140m on the luxurious new prison despite law-abiding Scots suffering savage, £1.3bn cutbacks to public services.

Prison bosses spent yet more money on detailed drawings of their vision for what the new jail in Aberdeenshire will look like.

They reveal that at the new Peterhead, some of Scotland’s most reviled criminals will enjoy access to at least four all-weather football pitches.

Further exercise areas will be provided in the wide spaces between the accommodation blocks, which feature huge windows to bathe the interior with light.

Almost half the entire area of the new prison is given over to landscaped, open ground for inmates to stroll in.

Many prisoners on the first and second floors will even enjoy North Sea views from their en-suite, single cells.

And each cell will be equipped with a new, 19-inch flat screen television when the jail opens its doors.

Tender documents for the “design and construction of a new prison near to the existing HMP Peterhead” make it clear no expense will be spared.

The document invites firms to bid for the “construction of the full range of prison buildings”.

As well as prisoner accommodation blocks, kitchen, and laundry, the new HMP Peterhead will feature a “links centre, education, and recreation facilities”.

The designs were condemned last night by Tory justice spokesman John Lamont MSP.

He said: “Prison is for rehabilitation, not relaxation.

“A culture has emerged where the Scottish taxpayer is seen as a cash cow by some of the most undeserving people. Even if we weren’t living in unprecedentedly difficult economic times it would be unacceptable.”

He added: “It is not right that even more money will be spent making convicted criminals comfortable, rather than being spent fighting the effects of Labour’s debt legacy. A life of crime should not pay.”

Labour’s Justice spokesman Richard Baker said: “What prisoners need is work and rehabilitation not football pitches and flat-screen televisions.

“The SNP are happy to see Aberdeen Prison close and see inmates there shipped up to Peterhead.

“It’s about time the SNP realised that ensuring prisoners have real work to do to tackle their offending behaviour is more important than swanky cells and wide open spaces.”

Emma Boon, Campaign Director of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “Taxpayers want prisons to be secure, but that shouldn’t cost the earth.  Landscaping and flat screen televisions are luxuries that many law abiding taxpayers can’t afford, so it’s outrageous that inmates will enjoy them.  This is a huge sum to spend at a time when the government is supposed to be cutting spending.”

Concern is now high that the eventual cost of the jail could massively exceed the £140m estimated price tag.

The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) has already signed a deal worth tens of thousands of pounds just for a company to keep a close eye on spending.

Ian Jamieson, director of Edinburgh-based surveyors Doig and Smith, said his company’s main aim was to avoid a “high profile financial disaster”.

And doubt remains that attempts to treat sex offenders at Peterhead are doing any good.

Earlier this month it emerged that offenders were being freed to re-offend because of “inadequate” attempts to rehabilitate them.

According to HM Inspector of Prisons, staff at Peterhead lack the training to deal effectively with sex offenders.

The same report revealed that fewer than 40% of paedophiles and rapists at the prison completed the core Sex Offenders Treatment Programme last year.

Brigadier Hugh Monro, warned: “Too many are liberated without the benefit of attending relevant programmes to address their sex offending behaviour.

“As an example of this, nearly one quarter of the prison’s population have been recalled to prison, an indication that their ability to adhere to the terms of their conditions of supervision is inadequate.”

The SPS also came under fire recently for deciding to splash out £250,000-a-year on 1,600 flatscreen televisions a year for inmates’ cells.

A spokesman for the SPS said the new jail would be a “community-facing” prison, meaning some of the inmates were women and ordinary criminals from the area.

He added that some of the sex offenders at Peterhead would be moved to new facilities in central Scotland.

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