Dundee folk protest at plans for new female custody unit in the city

Tom Heeney with his petition against the proposed custody unit

A regeneration group has called on locals to turn out in force at a community meeting to discuss proposals for a new female custody unit.

The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) plans to open a community custody unit on the site of one of two former schools — Rosebank and Our Lady’s — which are both located in the Coldside ward.

The Tele previously revealed that Rosebank Primary, in the Hilltown, is the preferred location for the community custody unit.

Angry residents have launched a petition to voice their opposition.

Now, Coldside community chiefs have called on locals to attend the next local community planning partnership (LCPP) meeting on Tuesday and make their voices heard on the issue.

Margaret Wemyss, chairwoman of Coldside Community Forum, said: “We are asking people to come out to the LCPP and we hope to have a large discussion and have as many people there to make our case.

“We have had petitions going and we have gone door-to-door — this is something that the community is against.”

It was announced in September that Dundee would be the location of one of the facilities, which would enable female prisoners to spend part of their sentences closer to their communities.

Tom Henney, 70, who has lived in Rosebank Street for 20 years and started the petition calling for the plan to be scrapped after discussing the possible unit with neighbours, previously voiced his concerns about the plans.

He said: “I talked to some of my neighbours and everyone I spoke to agreed that a petition should be started.

“There are two sheltered housing complexes in the area and a park which is regularly used by kids of all ages and dog walkers.

“This is also a community which has lots of families with young children — it wouldn’t be the right environment for a custody unit.”

The unit would cater for about 20 women and is expected to be open by 2020.

Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership said offenders would be “appropriately assessed as suitable for serving out this part of their sentence closer to their community”.

A spokeswoman for the SPS said: “We are happy to meet the local community to discuss our plans.”

Tuesday’s meeting will be held in committee room 3 at City Chambers, starting at 6pm.

REVEALED: Second school site earmarked for Dundee’s new women’s custody unit