Prisoners complaining about food portions and wages

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Former Polmont prisoner Luke Mitchell. Inmates at the institution for young offenders are said to complain about food and wages

MOANING prisoners are bombarding prison bosses with two complaints every hour.

According to figures released by the Scottish Prison Service convicts are lodging an increasing number of official grievances with their guardians.

The number of complaints has soared to more than 17,000 this year compared with 15,400 in 2010.

Prison bosses say the increase is due to higher prisoner numbers and a more transparent complaints procedure.

The current prison population is 7853 according to the latest figures, meaning each convict has lodged an average of two complaints.

The figures emerge after racist killer Imran ‘Baldy’ Shahid lost a compensation claim after being held in solitary confinement for his own protection.

The case was thrown out of court several weeks ago.

But complaints by typical prisoners appear trivial by comparison.

They include moans about the standard of food, having to do drug tests, complaints about laundry not being done properly and even gripes about wages.

A highly placed source in one of Scotland’s toughest institutions says the culture of complaining is endemic.

The insider, in Polmont Young offenders Institution, which had 457 complaints, said many brass-necked cons have adopted a ‘hotel mentality’.

He said: “One regular complaint is about dinner portions. Trusted convicts, who are called pass men, work in the kitchens. We regularly get complaints that the pass men are giving out bigger helpings to their pals.

“When the cons aren’t complaining about portion sizes, they have a good old moan about the quality of the food; whether it’s too cold, overcooked or the chicken is too rubbery.

“The way some of these guys moan you’d think they had paid top dollar for the grub.”

Another source of ire is washing. “If a prisoner gets his washing back from the laundry minus a sock or with someone else’s T-shirt, you never hear the end of it,” said the source.

“The complaints tend to become heated surrounding cancelled or denied visiting times.

“That of course is a big source of complaints from both the visitor and the prisoner when the visit is denied.

“I think little niggles and issues are often magnified in the tinder box confines of a jail environment. That’s to be expected, but some career criminals instantly become career complainers as soon as they are jailed.”

Tory Justice spokesman David McLetchie said: “While prisoners should always be given a proper outlet for airing grievances, the number of complaints filed is high. It seems too many prisoners are wasting valuable staff time by making complaints about anything and everything.”

A spokesman for the SPS said: “The Scottish Prison Service is, like all public bodies, accountable for the actions of the organisation. In his recent report, Brig high Monro, the Chief Inspector, reported that there was an appropriate balance between complaints which are upheld and complaints which are not.”

The figures show that Addiewell in West Lothian had the highest number of complaints at 3,765, followed by Glenochil with 2,496. Barlinnie saw the third highest number with 2.063.

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