Ex-prisoner seeks damages for sharing cell with smoker

Craig Guild is pursuing compensation from the SPS after sharing his prison cell with a smoker. Picture: Hemedia
Craig Guild is pursuing compensation from the SPS after sharing his prison cell with a smoker. Picture: Hemedia
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A FORMER prisoner is hoping to receive £2,500 in compensation from prison authorities after claiming he was forced to share a cramped cell with a smoker.

If his action proves successful, Craig Guild could set a precedent for similar claims from former prisoners across Scotland.

The prison staff clearly knew I was a non-smoker

Craig Guild

It follows a report released by David Strang, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland, who raised concerns about overcrowding in B Hall at Perth Prison.

Mr Guild, 35, from Dundee, believes he will be the first person to have served time in Perth Prison to file such a claim against the Scottish Prison Service (SPS).

And he hopes to win £2,500 after being placed in a “cramped” single cell with a smoker, despite claiming that prison staff knew he does not smoke.

He is now planning to take civil action against the SPS after speaking to a fellow former inmate who claims he was given compensation for human rights breaches while in prison.

Mr Guild, who served four-and-a-half-months jail time in 2014 for theft and breach of bail conditions, said: “It was really cramped in B Hall.

“We had to eat our meals in our cells and were basically on top of each other.

“I believe that having two people in the one single cell beaches human rights. I also had to contend with being in a cell with a smoker, when the prison staff clearly knew I was a non-smoker.”

He remains convinced that his case could result in a landmark ruling which would set a precedent for other inmate to claim through.

He added: “I believe I am the first former inmate within Perth Prison to apply for the money but I’m still waiting on a payment from the prison service.”

In his report on Perth Prison published last Friday, Mr Strang wrote: “Some cells designed as single cell accommodation were regularly occupied by two people and were extremely cramped with insufficient room to move around in.”

Despite the smoking ban, prisoners are still allowed to light up in their cells.

However, the Scottish Government aspires to create a “smoke-free prison service”.

Earlier this year, a judge in England ruled that prison guards and inmates could not smoke in communal areas.

The UK government had argued that as Crown premises, state prisons were exempt from smoke-free legislation.

However, Mr Justice Singh ruled that communal areas in prisons are subject to the laws, which should be enforced.

Paul Black, an inmate at HMP Wymott, argued that he was frequently exposed to second-hand smoke on landings, in laundry rooms and healthcare waiting rooms.

A spokesman for the SPS said: “We do not comment on individual prisoners.

“We have not paid any money in relation to such claims.”