Saturday 1 October 2016

Scotland's toughest jail

Published 09/09/2015 | 02:30

A general view of HMP Barlinnie where Alexander Pacteau will spend most of the next 23 years
A general view of HMP Barlinnie where Alexander Pacteau will spend most of the next 23 years

Alexander Pacteau faces spending most of the next 23 years in one of the world's toughest prisons.

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Her Majesty's Prison Barlinnie is the largest jail in Scotland and houses more than 1,000 inmates.

That prison population includes some of those assessed as Scotland's most dangerous criminals, including gangland figures, terrorists and serial sex offenders.

Inmates have nicknamed Barlinnie the 'Bar-L' or 'the big house in the east end'.

Located in the residential suburb of Riddrie, to the north west of Glasgow, Barlinnie was opened in 1882 and was where Scotland's capital punishments were carried out up until 1960.

It is now the largest prison in Scotland and handles male inmates, with a capacity of almost 1,300.

Among its most famous inmates were Glasgow gangsters Jimmy Boyle and Paul Ferris, footballer Duncan Ferguson and Libyan terrorist, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, who masterminded the bombing of a Pan-Am passenger jet over Lockerbie, which claimed 270 lives.

The prison was severely criticised in an Inspector of Scottish Prisons report in 2001 for 'slopping out' - using a bucket for in-cell sanitation.

Since then, millions of pounds have been invested in upgrading Barlinnie to modern prison standards.

Prison conditions were also blamed for controversial riots in 1987 when inmates took over large sections of the jail.

Long-term inmates are now primarily based in its Letham Hall unit. However, Barlinnie also has special protection units where prisoners who are deemed to be at risk from other inmates can be kept in protective custody.

The prison has a dedicated medical wing and has eight cells specially designed for prisoners who are deemed to pose a suicide risk.

Inmates on lengthy sentences are usually transferred to open prisons before their release.

Irish Independent

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