Scotland’s new £85m women’s prison is set to open this summer.
HMP Stirling will house around 100 inmates and has been designed with a trauma-informed approach – which takes account of gender – to better help rehabilitate those remanded.
The jail, which is more than two years late, has been built without bars on its windows and cells.
It will also be a young offenders institute, and includes areas to assist women needing more intensive mental health support.
In addition, it has a separation and re-integration unit, a progression unit, a mother and baby unit, and an assessment centre.
There are also smaller accommodation areas, which the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) said there is evidence to support they are more effective in achieving better outcomes for women.
During a visit to the facility on Thursday, Justice Secretary Angela Constance said: “This is a world-class facility that will provide world-leading care to women who are sentenced to custody.
“It has all the right services and the right environment and the right equipment to do better by women to improve their prospects of rehabilitation and reintegration into the community.”
The jail cost £85.7m to build – an increase from its initial £74m budget.
The facility was also originally planned to be operational by the end of 2020.
Allister Purdie, SPS director of operations, explained that the prison was under construction when the pandemic struck in 2020, which caused delays as well as increases to the cost of materials.
By late summer the facility will be around half its capacity.
Mr Purdie added: “Then we’ll start to filter in people from the courts and other establishments.
“And that’s really because some of the women have really difficult and complex needs. We just can’t fill them up in huge numbers.”
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HMP Stirling will replace Cornton Vale as the sole women-only prison in Scotland.
Some female inmates are also held at HMP Edinburgh, HMP Greenock, and HMP Grampian.
Smaller Community Custody Units – which are also designed to recognise the needs of remanded women – have already opened in Dundee and Glasgow.
Cornton Vale came under the spotlight earlier this year when transgender double rapist Isla Bryson was initially remanded there following their conviction.
Bryson, who raped two women when known as Adam Graham, was later transferred to the male estate after a public outcry which sparked an urgent case review.
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Concerns have also been recently raised over the case of Andrew Miller, also known as Amy George, who admitted abducting a schoolgirl while dressed as a woman before sexually assaulting her.
Miller, who is yet to be sentenced, is currently being held in the male prison estate.
Until the wider SPS Gender Identity and Gender Reassignment (GIGR) Policy Review is complete, any transgender person in custody who has a history of violence against women – including sexual offences – will not be relocated from the male to female estate.
Additionally, newly convicted or remanded transgender prisoners will be placed in an establishment which aligns with their gender at birth.
Justice Secretary Ms Constance said: “That means that no transgender prisoner with a history of violence or sexual offending against women can be placed in the women’s estate.
“We will always continue to review safeguards because the Scottish Prison Service has a responsibility to the safety and wellbeing of all prisoners, including their staff.”