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Broken mops, sharpened toilet brushes and dominoes in a sock – Report reveals rise in make-shift weapons at Perth Prison

Weapons of choice - a selection of some of the deadly tools found at HMP Perth
Weapons of choice - a selection of some of the deadly tools found at HMP Perth

Perth Prison staff are battling a rising tide of deadly handmade weapons.

Data released by the Scottish Prison Service reveals the number of shivs, blunt force tools and other improvised items recovered from inmates at the Tayside jail soared by 50% in 2021.

A total of 153 weapons have been seized by guards since 2019.

The most found items include razor blades and sharpened plastics, such as toothbrushes.

Some of the more outlandish discoveries were wheelchair parts, bird spikes, a vape pen and a sock filled with dominoes.

The shock figures also reveal that inmates are arming themselves with everyday items such as belts, kettles and even wet floor signs.

The number of weapons recovered jumped from 23 in 2019 to 45 in 2020 and rose again to 69 last year.

In the first quarter of this year alone, another 16 weapons have been seized.

The figures, released following a Freedom of Information request by local Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser, also detail the number of assaults on prison staff over the last three years.

HMP Perth

Since 2019, there have been 119 attacks on officers within the jail.

Of those, 16 required hospital treatment.

The data shows the number of assaults has rose to 40 in 2021-22, from 27 the year before.

Case studies

In the last seven days, Perth Sheriff Court has dealt with three cases involving weapons and violence at the city jail.

Fergus Muldoon, jailed for a botched armed robbery in Glenrothes, was caught with a blade made from a piece of plastic cutlery and a vape casing.

Fergus Muldoon

He was serving a four year term for slashing a fellow inmate across the face with an open razor.

Sheriff Mark Stewart summarised the dangers of prison weapons as he jailed Muldoon for a further four months.

“Possession and use of improvised weapons in prisons – and other places where people are confined – is not only prevalent, it is a very dangerous and troublesome part of prison life,” he said.

“The courts have made clear that they will not tolerate persons arming themselves.

“It is all too often that these improvised weapons are used to cause significant and sometimes fatal injuries.”

The sheriff added: “In this case, the weapon was not used.

“But it was there, and it served no purpose but to cause injury.”

This week, convicted sex offender Kyle Leonard admitted stabbing another prisoner 10 or 12 times with a sharpened toilet brush.

Kyle Leonard

He also booted a female prison officer when she tried to separate the two men.

Earlier this month, child killer Jordan McCready was given extra time behind bars for biting a prison officer during a scuffle.

Jordan McCready

The court heard the 27-year-old, jailed in 2012 for the murder of teenager Jon Wilson, lashed out at staff in a row over medication.

Weapon toll ‘dispels hope’

Murdo Fraser, Conservative MSP for Mid-Scotland and Fife, urged prison bosses to raise the issue with Scottish Government ministers.

“I find the number of weapons recovered at Perth Prison to be very alarming,” he said.

Murdo Fraser MSP.

“The fact that some of its prisoners are willing to go to these lengths to try to attack other inmates or staff with these weapons is very concerning indeed.”

He added: “The weapons, some of which must have taken time and ingenuity to put together, were all designed to seriously hurt either a fellow inmate or prison staff, and that must be acted upon.

Mr Fraser, who described the number of assaults on staff as “truly shocking” said: “I shudder to think what kind of injuries could have been inflicted by prisoners using the likes of a cosh, knuckle duster, broken mirror or a pool cue.

“It would be reassuring to know that our prisons have become less violent in recent years but these figures dispel that hope.”

A Scottish Prison Service spokesman responded: “The SPS has a zero tolerance approach towards violence and any assaults on staff are reported to the appropriate authorities.

“We take the safety of our staff seriously and provide a range of support measures and interventions to those who have been assaulted during the course of their duties.”

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