Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf has attended a ground breaking ceremony as work got under way on a new national women’s prison.
The construction of the Women’s National Facility (WNF) at HMP Cornton Vale near Stirling is part of plans to revamp the Scottish custodial system.
Under the new system, up to 80 women can be held at the WNF, with a further 40 split across two community custody units (CCUs) in Dundee and Glasgow.
The current Cornton Vale prison will remain in use throughout construction of the new facility, which will also have a 24 room assessment centre.
During his visit, the Justice Secretary was given feedback by current Cornton Vale prisoners on the support they would like to see in the new facility.
After the event, Mr Yousaf said: “Today’s ceremony marks the beginning of construction of the new Women’s National Facility and is an important step towards delivering Scotland’s new approach to how women in custody will be managed.
“Many women in prison have complex needs – a factor the Scottish Prison Service has taken into account in redesigning the new custodial environment.
“I was particularly interested to hear about the gender-specific, trauma-informed design and work that is taking place to ensure the facilities will support the physical and mental health of women in their care.
“Ultimately, we are committed to reducing the number of women in prison and helping tackle the root causes of their offending so they can escape prison’s revolving door.”
Scottish Prison Service (SPS) chief executive Colin McConnell said: “Through this new model of custody, SPS is embarking on a new approach to how we manage women within our estate.
“SPS has redesigned the custodial environment for women with the aim of creating gender specific, trauma-informed settings where all who work, live and visit prison feel safe, respected and valued.
“The design of the new WNF and CCUs have ensured that the environment will support physical and mental health and well-being to reduce the impact and associated risk of institutionalisation.
“The WNF will also provide a secure environment for women in custody who present a significant risk to the public and/ or have the most complex needs.”