Sheriff Ian Cruickshank has instructed a court clerk to write to the holders of Scotland’s prisoner escort contract GEOAmey amid concerns that Shetland is receiving a “second rate” service.
His instruction followed a day in Lerwick Sheriff Court in which proceedings were heavily delayed due to prisoners being escorted from HMP Grampian to the court missing their flight.
The sheriff said that it was unclear whether the contractor had failed to provide an adequate service but added that it was “not the first time” the court had been delayed due to missed flights or prisoners not being taken to court at the time they should have been.
Defence agent Tommy Allan, when asked by the sheriff, relayed the experience of one of his clients.
The female prisoner had been awoken at 3am and transported to Aberdeen Airport, arriving at around 6am by her estimations.
This proved too late to make the 6.30am flight meaning her and other prisoners being flown up for Wednesday’s court were then booked on the 9.15am flight instead.
During the three hour delay the woman was kept in the back of a prison van where a request to go to the bathroom “initially” resulted in her being told to urinate in a “bag”, said Mr Allan. She was later escorted to a toilet, the defence agent clarified.
Both the sheriff and Mr Allan added that the delay was no reflection on local GEOAmey staff, who both men praised.
GEOAmey’s eight-year contract with the Scottish Government is worth £238 million.
The Shetland Times has approached GEOAmey for comment.