Murdo has said that the number of assaults on Perth Prison staff by inmates – 119 in three years – and the variety of weapons found there is “very alarming.”
The politician was reacting to statistics obtained by the Scottish Conservatives through Freedom of Information, which reveal that 11 of the assaults on prison staff from April 2019 to March 2022 resulted in them receiving medical treatment at hospital. The details also found that 153 weapons were recovered during this period, with the police being involved with 81 of these discoveries.
There was an array of weapons recovered including a sharpened toothbrush; razor blades; sharpened pieces of metal; a cosh - using either soap or a padlock in a sock; a homemade knuckle duster; a sharpened e-cigarette; a pair of scissors, a kettle of water; a broken mirror; a piece of a wheelchair; a pool cue; metal hooks; sharpened cutlery; hair clippers, a long curved metal bar and two blocks of wood with razors.
Commenting, Murdo Fraser MSP said: “I find the number of assaults by prisoners on staff at Perth Prison during this time period to be truly shocking. Prison officers should be able to carry out their duties without the fear of being assaulted by inmates at the prison, and it is even more worrying to know that 11 of these assaults led to some officers having to be taken to hospital for medical treatment as their injuries must have been fairly serious.
“And I find the number of weapons recovered at Perth Prison to be very alarming indeed. I know Perth Prison has quite a large inmate population so obviously not everyone was involved, but the fact that some of its prisoners are willing to go to these lengths to try to attack other inmates or staff with these weapons is very concerning indeed. The weapons, some of which must have taken time and ingenuity to put together, were all designed to seriously hurt either a fellow inmate or prison staff, and that must be acted upon.
“I shudder to think what kind of injuries could have been inflicted by prisoners using the likes of a cosh, knuckle duster, broken mirror or a pool cue. It would be reassuring to know that our prisons have become less violent in recent years, but these figures dispel that hope, and that is very concerning. It is an issue that is no doubt being looked at by the Scottish Prison Service, who should bring it to the attention of the Scottish Government.”
The total number of weapons recovered at Perth Prison for 2019 was 23, with the police involved in 13 of these incidents; for 2020 – 45 weapons were recovered, with police involved in 25 of these; 2021 – 69 weapons were recovered, with police involved in 38 of these incidents and the figures for this year, up to March, are 16 weapons were recovered, with the police involved in 7 of these.