£25,000 spent on prisoners' treats
Published 16/01/2011 | 08:56
More than £25,000 was spent on entertainment and treats for prisoners over Christmas, according to latest figures.
The money covered competitions, live bands, comedians and refreshments across Scotland's jails. Charitable and prisoner-run events were also held over the festive period.
Labour, which released the figures, said the details would "horrify" victims of crime.
But the Scottish Prison Service said the money amounted to £3.50 per prisoner and that a similar system ran when Labour was in power.
The details show £285 was spent on comedians at Barlinnie, where a £350 live band event was also held. About £2,000 was spent on competitions at Glenochil. At Greenock, £240 was spent on comedy, while prisoners also put on a free Christmas carol concert for other inmates.
At Polmont, £2,845 was spent on competitions and a series of events were put on free of charge. They included a "cultural awareness" Christmas event and a healthy eating group buffet prepared by inmates.
Shotts put on a prisoner-funded children's Christmas party and a £625 series of competitions. Prisoners at Aberdeen were given £5 "goody bags" from the common good fund, which is not funded by the state. Similar common funds were spent at other prisons.
Labour justice spokesman Richard Baker said: "Victims of crime, many of whom will have spent their first Christmas without their loved ones, will be horrified that under Alex Salmond's SNP Government convicted murders and rapists are being treated to live bands and stand-up comedians. The SNP try and talk about their commitment to victims of crime but that's all it is."
However, a spokesman for the Scottish Prison Service said: "This creates a misleading impression of activity which has been happening in prisons during the festive seasons for very many years - and it is quite wrong to say that it is all taxpayer funded.
"All convicted prisoners are required to work, and from wages earned, some is added to charitable donations to make up the prison's common good fund administered by the governor, which funds minimal activity during the festive season. It is equivalent to some £3.50 per prisoner per year, and has been long standing practice both before and since devolution."