Today the new prison in Peterhead, HMP and YOI Grampian took its first prisoners. They'll build up gradually over the next few weeks to full capacity rather than taking them all in one go. I had a tour of the prison a few weeks ago. It was very odd to be in a prison with staff but no prisoners! In 2007 I visited one of its predecessors, HMP Peterhead, which along with HMP Aberdeen is now closed. The Grampian prison has been built next door to the old and delapidated Peterhead jail, is a great improvement and much more fit for purpose. It's not just a new building though. HMP Peterhead was a specialist prison dealing with one category of prisoner. HMP and YOI Grampian will take all categories but be postcode based, taking prisoners from the north-east of Scotland. Statistics show that desistance from crime is more likely where there is a supportive family, so it's good to have prisons not too far from home so that prisoners' families (who're often struggling financially and in other ways) have shorter journeys to make in order to visit. The visits will help maintain the relationships within the family and make reintegration into the family unit on release a bit easier. It would be great if we didn't need any prisons so today probably isn't a day for celebration exactly, but it's a significant day and I hope that all goes well as staff and prisoners alike settle in.
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