A senior politician has called on the prison authority to reopen a young offenders’ facility in the north-east.
It comes as the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) said it is still unsure when young detainees will be back at the youth detention centre at HMP Grampian in Peterhead, four years after they were moved out after a riot.
The facility, which opened in 2014 to replace HMP Peterhead and HMP Aberdeen, had been open for only two months when detainees rioted and caused £150,000 of damage.
North-east MSP Lewis Macdonald said he was disappointed the SPS has not been able to say when the facility for young offenders will be back up and running.
He added: “I would urge the service to get a move on.
“I have had parents of young offenders come to me to make the point about the difficulties they face in travelling to Polmont, which is a good distance away.
“If you don’t have a car, it can be a very difficult place to get to by bus or train and also very expensive, and that is impacting on some families.
“There was one man who told me he spent three hours getting there and when he arrived, he was told visiting had been cancelled.”
Mr Macdonald said: “The whole ethos behind the facility at Peterhead was that offenders would be close to their families and get community-facing support.
“Clearly, it is harder for offenders to see their families in Polmont and, while staff there are dedicated and experienced, they could be getting the community-facing support in the north-east.
“All the evidence shows that people are more likely to rehabilitate if they have contact with their family.”
An SPS spokesman said: “SPS wants to make sure that the regime and curriculum available for delivery is appropriate and aligned with our strategy for managing young people in custody prior to any return taking place.”