MSP impressed by progressive approach at HMP Dumfries

South Scotland list MSP Emma Harper participated in a visit to HMP Dumfries with Justice Secretary, Keith Brown.

By Brian Yule
Thursday, 14th July 2022, 11:04 am

She met with the governor Andrew Hunstone, staff and those in custody, to see for herself the progressive approach being taken to support people in custody, with the ultimate goal of reducing reoffending and allowing them to gain employment and education opportunities on their release.

Ms Harper attended an award ceremony for two of the prison staff who intervened to prevent a man from taking his own life in Dumfries town centre last June.

She then joined Mr Brown for a tour of HMP Dumfries, including the skills development unit, wellbeing garden, custody unit and family visiting area.

Emma Harper MSP flanked by Justice Secretary Keith Brown (left) and governor Andrew Hunstone outside HMP Dumfries

The garden enables those in custody access to the outdoors to grow fruit and vegetables in the polytunnels for the canteen and it has been proven to be beneficial for their physical health and psychological wellbeing.

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The outside area also houses solar panels which contribute to generating the electricity on site.

The prison also enables community groups, in particular those working to support people with dementia, into the garden to use the facilities and has held events in the garden with the family members of those in custody.

Ms Harper said: “It was good to visit HMP Dumfries and I was really impressed with the work of the Governor, and all staff, who are absolutely focused on the health and wellbeing of people in their custody.

"They go above and beyond to come up with innovative ideas which will ultimately be key in helping people in custody to be equipped to rebuild their lives.

"During the visit, I was able to hear from young men who were attending a support group to talk about adapting to life after custody and who were learning new and valuable skills which are crucial for obtaining employment.

“The work the prison is undertaking with the wellbeing garden is also hugely impressive, and is testament to the progressive approach being taken to support prisoners, with the aim of reducing reoffending.”