Local MSP Stewart Stevenson has received details of the commitment by the Scottish Prison Service on support for HMP Grampian to address their staffing issues.
A report by HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland published in July found issues with staffing shortages at the prison, with recruitment and retention of staff being highlighted as a problem owing to the high employment rate in the Buchan area.
Responding to a letter from the SNP MSP, Chief Executive Colin McConnell detailed a range of actions and initiatives designed to support the prison and recruit staff members.
Welcoming the commitment, Mr Stevenson again highlighted the overall positive nature of the inspectorate’s report and the efforts of the staff at the facility, stating:“It was clear from the report that, despite some challenges, the staff at HMP Grampian are carrying on the ethos of the old HMP Peterhead and deserve to be commended for their hard work.
"Back then, the officers charged with custody of what was then a sex-offender population were a team who were highly motivated in their jobs by doing their utmost to protect the public by ensuring their inmates got every support to make them not re-offend. Prevention of re-offending remains a top priority for the staff.
“Bringing together two prisons with very different cultures in HMP Peterhead and HMP Craiginches was always going to present some challenges, but the report stated the “inspection team found an establishment that had matured, and despite a small number of significant incidents in 2018, was largely calm and purposeful with emerging signs of stability and progress”.
“There were issues highlighted in the report which require to be addressed, and I raised these with the SPS, who have responded positively with details of what they are doing to address staffing and other issues.
“In particular, new initiatives and changes to the recruitment process appear to be generating increased interest from potential job applicants. These include Open Days, online testing as part of the recruitment process, funded visits with a family member to HMP Grampian to meet other staff who had also relocated to the area, and also promoting career opportunities at North-east secondary schools.
“None of these represent a ‘quick-fix’ but I am confident that SPS management are taking all reasonable steps to address the staffing situation highlighted in the report.”