A WATCHDOG has raised concerns about the "significant increase" in the number of prisoners at HMP Glenochil – which was operating at 110 per cent capacity earlier this year.

Officials noted that the Wee County prison is facing "extra pressure on all aspects of its regime" and highlighted issues such as overcrowding and its potential to impact upon rehabilitation measures and re-offending rates.

The concerns were raised in an annual report from Scotland's chief inspector of prisons Wendy Sinclair-Gieben, released earlier this month.

HMP Glenochil manages both short-term and long-term male offenders, including those with life and extended sentences.

It is also one of the major sites in Scotland for managing sex offenders.

The Scottish Prison Service website states the building's current design gives it a prison population capacity of 670.

However, on March 31 of this year its population was at a staggering 740 – which is 10 per cent over its official capacity – according to the chief inspector's report.

This was a result of a general increase in the Scottish prison population, which is being felt particularly acutely at the Clacks jail.

In outlining the consequences, Ms Sinclair-Gieben's report claimed the number of inmates at HMP Glenochil sharing a cell has gone up.

There are also a small number of people there under protection from the prison staff – but there is no proper system in place to keep them safe.

This has led to those under protection simply being "locked in their cells for extended periods of time".

Addressing the issue of overpopulation more generally, Ms Sinclair-Gieben said in her report: "I am very concerned that the number of prisoners is starting to exceed design capacity, resulting in not only additional pressures on staff, the prison regime and activities, but also on the essential programme and throughcare activities designed to reduce recidivism."

In response, a spokesperson for the Scottish Prison Service told the Advertiser: "The challenges associated in safely managing a complex and increasing prison population can unfortunately impact on the range of activities and opportunities offered and available to all in our care.

"We continue to develop the regime for prisoners to maximize the range of purposeful activities available to them such as work, education and offender programmes to address their offending behaviour."