‘Unacceptable’ damp puts 17 prison cells out of action

HMP Greenock is one of oldest prisons in Scotland dating from 1910.  Picture: SWNS
HMP Greenock is one of oldest prisons in Scotland dating from 1910. Picture: SWNS
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One of Scotland’s oldest prisons has been forced to put 17 of its cells out of use due to “unacceptable” levels of dampness within them.

The Ailsa Hall and Darroch Hall areas of Greenock Prison, were noted as suffering from water ingress.

The findings of an inspection into HMP Greenock, which holds both male and female prisoners, were revealed in a report released today.

But the facility was praised for how staff kept prisoners involved and informed of their care, for offering “impressive” work placements and for reintegrating prisoners within society upon release.

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland David Strang called for “significant investment” in the old prison to bring cells to prevent any more being put out of use.

He said: “Staff, prisoners and those visiting the establishment told inspectors they felt safe.

“This sense of safety was acknowledged by all parties as being, in a large part, derived from the strong and positive relationships that existed within HMP Greenock.

“The main residential areas were built at the start of the 20th Century and do not meet modern standards nor were they comparable with the conditions found in the majority of prisons in Scotland.

“Ailsa Hall and to a lesser extent Darroch Hall, were suffering from water ingress resulting in unacceptable dampness within a number of cells.

“It was pleasing to note that the Governor had recently put 17 cells out of use as a result of this, but concerning that this was necessary.

“It is difficult to see how 
this issue can be addressed without significant investment, and should the 
status quo remain it will almost certainly result in more cells being put out of use over time. HMP Greenock requires significant upgrading or replacement within a short period.”

HMP Greenock was built between 1907 and 1910, replacing the Nelson Street prison which was adjacent to the existing Sheriff Court building.

The prison was opened with just two residential buildings, Ailsa Hall and Darroch Hall, with a third unit, Chrisswell House, opening in 1996. Chrisswell was built with the specific needs of long-term offenders in mind.

Greenock had always been a male prison until the introduction of females in 2002.