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Prison staff targeted in fire attacks 'deserve greater protection'

Prison staff “deserve greater protection” from organised criminals following a spate of fire attacks on cars parked outside Scottish jails.

Research by Scottish Conservative MSP Russell Findlay found there have been eight deliberate vehicle fires over the past five years, with a ninth at HMP Perth last month.

Six vehicles were destroyed in an attack at HMP Addiewell in January.

Russell Findlay says that such “cowardly” attacks are almost certainly ordered by organised crime groups to intimidate staff.

He is urging SNP justice secretary Angela Constance to ensure that Police Scotland and the Scottish Prison Service have sufficient resources to bring to justice those responsible.

Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary Russell Findlay said: “Dedicated prison staff dealing with society’s most dangerous people should not have to suffer such cowardly acts of intimidation.

“We know that organised crime groups use violence, threats and blackmail to smuggle drugs and other contraband into prisons. But more must be done to teach criminals that they can’t get away with terrorising staff.

“I’m calling on the justice secretary to ensure that sufficient resources are in place so that every single one of these attacks is subject to the fullest possible investigation and prosecution.

“Prison staff should be confident that they have the protection and support they deserve. If any other occupation suffered so many targeted attacks, there would be an understandable uproar — so, why should they be expected to put up with it?”

NOTES:

A written question (ref S6W-19957) submitted by Russell Findlay MSP to the Scottish Government is attached. The answer provided by justice secretary Angela Constance states that there have been eight incidences of fire raising of vehicles at Scottish prisons over the past five years.

Six vehicles were destroyed at HMP Addiewell in January 2023 (Daily Record LINK) and two vehicles at HMP Barlinnie in January 2020 (Scottish Sun LINK) with another attack at the same prison in Mar 2021 (Scottish Sun LINK). 

Other attacks have taken place at HMP Shotts in November 2020 (Glasgow Live LINK) and at HMP Low Moss in the same month (STV News LINK).

In addition, a ninth attack took place at HMP Perth in July 2023 (Sky News LINK).