Urgent questions over guns in Scottish prisons

By Bill Heaney

SNP justice secretary Angela Constance has been urged to explain the discovery of a firearm inside a Scottish prison.

Police Scotland’s 2022-23 recorded crime statistics reveal a single incident of “possession of a firearm in a prison” but do not state when it happened, provide details of the firearm, the identity of the prison or whether anyone was prosecuted.

It is the first recorded firearm discovery inside a Scottish prison since the creation of Police Scotland in 2013.

Scottish Conservative shadow community safety minister Russell Findlay says that prison officers and the public deserve a full explanation from the SNP justice secretary.

Russell Findlay, Angela Constance and Barlinnie Jail in Glasgow.

He intends to submit a question in the Scottish Parliament to establish the full details from the SNP government.

The firearm revelation follows a confirmed 1,100 per cent rise in prisoners being caught with drugs and the recent firebombing of staff vehicles in a prison car park.

There has also been an increase in drones flying into the prison estate, with nine detected in the first three months of this year. They are used to smuggle drugs and other contraband.

Russell Findlay MSP, said: “The first ever discovery of a firearm inside a prison is deeply alarming and I intend to ask the SNP justice secretary to provide a full account of this incident. 

“Prison staff do a difficult and dangerous job, and they deserve to know exactly what this was about.

“For someone to be caught with a gun inside what should be a secure environment adds to a growing catalogue of serious concerns about the safety and security of Scotland’s prisons.

“The number of prisoners caught with drugs has risen sharply, drone use is on the increase and cars belonging to prison staff have been firebombed.

“Ruthless organised crime groups are seeking to exert control inside prisons, and we cannot allow that to happen. Prisoners need to know that the staff are in charge – not them.

“SNP cuts to the prison service budget coupled with their soft-touch approach to justice is a dangerous combination which I fear could result in staff being put at even greater risk from violence and intimidation.”

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