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Prisoner Video Conferences Prompt Intimidation Concerns at New Scottish Jail

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Concerns have been raised that prison inmates at one of Scotland’s newest jails could threaten witnesses after authorities confirmed prisoners would be allowed hour-long video calls with family and friends.

ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND, April 22 (RIA Novosti), Mark Hirst - Concerns have been raised that prison inmates at one of Scotland’s newest jails could threaten witnesses after authorities confirmed prisoners would be allowed hour-long video calls with family and friends.

Prisoners at the £140 million ($236 million) newly built “superjail”, HMP Grampian, will be allowed access to a “video hub” as part of their allocated visitor entitlement.

But opponents of the move say the facility could result in witnesses being intimidated, a claim denied by prison authorities.

A Scottish Prison Service spokeswoman told RIA Novosti: "Prisoner visits conducted via video conferencing facilities are subject to the same arrangements, conditions and rigorous risk assessments as visiting sessions held within establishments."

The spokeswoman added that video calls were already commonplace in some prisons to allow inmates to speak to their lawyers.

“We still want to promote family contact. However, if there are difficulties for people travelling it’s an option,” the prison spokeswoman added.

But politicians have expressed fears that the video calls could be exploited by inmates.

“It does need proper security and supervision to ensure the video calls are not abused,” Justice Spokesman for the Scottish Labour Party Graeme Pearson told RIA Novosti.

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