Scottish prison staff splash 100k on taxis

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SCOTTISH prison staff splashed out more than £100,000 on taxis fares over the past five years.

The huge bill was run up ferrying prisoners and staff to “church visits”, “hospital appointments” and shipping medical samples.

Scottish taxpayers also footed the bill so prisoners could attend hospital appointments under escort.

Politicians and tax campaign groups branded the figures “worrying” – warning the public needed reassurance that prisoners were being transported in secure vehicles.

The shocking figures, released through Freedom of Information show that the total spent on taxis by the Scottish Prison Service since 2007 was £121,264.

The stats show that prisons at Barlinnie and Edinburgh spent the highest amount of taxpayer’s cash, clocking up £26,035 and £24,040 in fares each over the period.

HMP Inverness, which services courts in the Highlands, Islands and Moray spent £3,073 – including 33 trips to take prisoners to hospital by escort.

There was also three trips for “church services” and 99 taxi journeys to and from jail from Raigmore Hospital for “samples”.

HMP Aberdeen spent £227.

Secure?

Labour’s Justice Minister said the public needn’t to be sure that prisoners were being transported in secure vehicles.

He said: “Communities need to be confident that prisoners who  might pose a security risk are only ever taken out of jail in secure vehicles designed for the purpose.

“It is worrying to hear that taxis are being used to transport medical samples rather than trained medical staff.

“I will be writing to the Chief Executive of the SPS to confirm that this practice has stopped, mow that the NHS has responsibility for healthcare inside Scotland’s prisons.”

A spokesman for the SPS said: “On the occasions when a prisoner requires to attend a hospital a full risk assessment is undertaken.

“Since November 2011 the NHS have had full responsibility for healthcare within prisons. Prior to that it was the responsibility of the SPS to have any urgent medical samples sent to the appropriate place by the most efficient means possible samples are now transported by the NHS.”

Robert Oxely of the TaxPayers alliance said: “Prisoners may sometimes need to travel for health reasons or for funerals but the prison service must ensure the bill for these trips is kept to a minimum.

In July is was revealed BBC Scotland bosses had splashed out more than £1.2million in taxis over two years ferrying staff and guests to and from their studios.

Hard-up Scottish social workers spent £20million on taxi fares from 2009 – 2012. Much of this money was spent transporting children to see their estranged parents.

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