Homeless prisoners get home leave at an average cost of £3,600 each


PRISONERS are being sent on home leave even though they don’t have homes to go to – at an average cost of £3,600 each.

Jail chiefs have paid for 75 homeless convicts to stay in hostel accommodation over the past two years at a total cost of almost £270,000.

All the prisoners were inmates at Castle Huntly open prison near Dundee and were preparing for release back into the community.

Prisoners are released for a maximum of seven days at a time meaning the average cost per night could be in the region of £500 – around twice the cost of staying at Gleneagles.

The Scottish Tories said the public expected that prisoners on home leave had a home to go to.

Prisoners are being sent "home" to hostels
Prisoners are being sent “home” to hostels

The figures were released under the Freedom of Information Act and show that in 2014/15 a total of 42 homeless inmates at Castle Huntly were given home leave.

The cost of the accommodation was £140,000, or £3,338 each.

So far this financial year, 33 homeless convicts have been given home leave at a cost of £128,671, an average of £3,899 per prisoner.

The SPS said it could not give any information about the number of nights homeless prisoners spent on home leave without another Freedom of Information request.

A spokeswoman said homeless prisoners were sent to hostels for a maximum of seven nights at a time.

If prisoners were released for one maximum period during the year that would equate to a nightly cost of £512.

Gleneagles charges £450 for a one-night “Swing and Dine” package including a three course meal at their Michelin-starred Andrew Fairlie restaurant, a round of golf and full access to leisure facilities.

Scottish Conservative MSP and Shadow Minister for Communities and Housing, Alex Johnstone said: “Taxpayers will be dismayed at the amount of money being spent on housing criminals in hostels.

“While home leave is suitable for some prisoners and is part of the rehabilitation process, many hard-working Scots will be shocked to hear they’re forking out so much on this type of accommodation.”

A spokesman for Taxpayer Scotland said: “If these daily costs are true, someone has to analyse this quickly.

“Taxpayers should not be asked to support badly controlled spending, every penny needs to be carefully audited and operational methods re-visited to save our money from being wasted.”

The FOI also revealed that a homeless prisoner had absconded in the past two years while on home leave at a hostel.

A Scottish Prison Service spokeswoman said: “Those who stay in hostels whilst on home leave are there because they do not have homes to go to.

“Home leave is an important part of reintegration as an individual can be tested on how they cope in the community, and this helps form the parole board decisions.”