Byline: MARK AITKEN
A WOMAN prison governor's controversial proposal to allow inmates in jails private conjugal visits was roundly condemned yesterday.
Audrey Park said that Scotland should consider adopting the system in Canada where prisoners serving long sentences are entitled to regular visits by their partners.
But the outspoken remarks made by Miss Park, the governor of Gateside Prison in Greenock and Scotland's youngest female governor, are at odds with the official views held by the hierarchy within the Scottish Prison Service.
An SPS spokesman insisted that the Scottish penal system was based on punishment and said any conjugal visits would undermine that approach.
Under the Canadian scheme visits take place in cottages within the prison walls and are available to both homosexual and heterosexual prisoners provided there is an established relationship.
Miss Park, who attended Glasgow University and worked for an insurance firm before joining the prison service, made her controversial remarks at a conference in Edinburgh.
She said she believed private one-toone visits strengthened family ties and reduced tension in prisons. Her comments were based on a three-month visit to a maximum security prison in Kingston, Canada, where prisoners have enjoyed conjugal rights for 15 years.
Miss Park, 37, said: 'These are long-term prisoners in high-security jails, plagued by the same problems of drugs and violence we have in Scottish prisons. The family cottages have created an environment where family contact can be delivered very well.' The proposal for conjugal rights has previously been welcomed by Chief Inspector of Prisons Clive Fairweather who suggested that weekend sex sessions with partners could be a reward for drug-free prisoners. …