Call for creation of family visit centres in jails to help cut crime and support vulnerable

THE Kirk has called for the Scottish Government to adopt a policy that would place family visit centres in every prison, claiming they are one of the most effective tools against reoffending.

The Church of Scotland's social outreach body, CrossReach, yesterday called on the government and the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) to fund the creation of 13 centres across the country.

There are currently only three prison visitor centres in Scotland, including one at Perth run by the Kirk, which provide support to families visiting relatives in prison.

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The Very Reverend Andrew McLellan, a former Moderator and previously HM Inspector of Prisons, said the centres supported potentially vulnerable families of prisoners, but were also? effective in "making Scotland safe".

"This is front-line stuff in terms of meeting real human pain," he said. "It is also astonishingly outcome driven.

"If you wanted the secretary for justice to spend money on making Scotland safer, the single best investment for reducing crime is building more visitor centres in prisons."

The Kirk currently spends 60,000 running the centre on a part-time basis. It is asking the Scottish Government and the SPS to fund the additional centres completely.