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THE SNP was urged to increase prisons funding in Scotland today after it was revealed services have faced more than £700 million of real terms cuts since the party took office.
Labour politicians have hit out at the government over its lack of funding for the Scottish Prison Service (SPS).
Since the SNP came to power in Holyrood in 2007, the SPS has reportedly faced real terms cuts to its budget of £713m, with next year’s proposed budget expected to continue this trend.
HM Chief Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland has claimed the prison population is now exceeding the design and operational capacity of the SPS, with inmate numbers rising by 9 per cent last year.
The service has also been forced to buy space in the privately operated prisons of HMP Addiewell and HMP Kilmarnock to deal with overcrowding.
Scottish Labour said prisons in Scotland have now been left under “immense financial pressure.”
James Kelly MSP said: “Successive SNP governments have cut the Scottish Prison Service to the bone, leaving them without the capacity to safely manage the sharp rise in our prison population and being forced to rent space in privately run prisons.
“HMP Barlinnie is now running at 50 per cent over capacity. This is simply unacceptable and is letting down both staff and prisoners.
“It is time that the SNP confronted the reality that we need to invest in a modern prison service that responds to challenges such as our ageing prisoner population and substance misuse crisis in prisons.
“Any failure to do so will fail staff and prisoners alike.”
The Scottish government had not responded to comment at the time of going to press.
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