Women prisoners to be given ‘life-coaching’

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By Oliver Farrimond

JAILBIRDS in Scotland’s prisons are to be given life-coaching lessons under a new NHS scheme.

Women prisoners will be offered the chance to learn “household management skills” and be given sexual health tips in a project to be piloted by NHS Lothian.

The scheme, codenamed “Willow”, will attempt to equip female prisoners with the life skills to keep out of trouble and expand their interests.

Under-fire Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill attended the launch of the scheme, and said that schemes such as this were necessary to address the causes of crime.

He said: “Clearly those that break the law must face the consequences of their actions.

“However very often the criminal justice system on its own can’t address the underlying problems behind offending behaviour.”

Dr Charles Winstanley, chairman of NHS Lothian, was keen to give his backing to the project.

He said: “The Willow Project is an example of NHS Lothian’s commitment to improving services for some of our most vulnerable women.”

The launch of the plan comes just days after revelations that Scotland’s soft-touch jails have allowed two violent criminals to escape within almost a week of each other.

Brian Martin, dubbed “The Hawk”, and convicted murderer John Brown both escaped from Castle Huntly Open Prison within almost a week.

As a result of the escapes, calls have intensified for MacAskill to step down from his Scottish Government post.