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More employees for private security firm

24 March 2006

The security firm Reliance has taken on 17 extra members of staff in Edinburgh, following a series of courtroom blunders.

The private firm - responsible for all prisoner escorts in Scotland - was criticised after two prisoners were released in error in less than two weeks from Edinburgh Sheriff Court. In addition, operations director Jim Greenoak has been summoned to the city's High Court to explain why an escort was not available for a murder trial earlier this week.

Reliance blamed a road accident and bad weather for the absence of the escorting officers, but the judge Lord Hardie said he wanted more information and a police report into the road accident.

Mr Greenoak has announced that 17 extra members of staff will be stationed at Edinburgh Sheriff Court. He said recruitment had already taken place and the new intake of fully trained officers would be phased in over the next few weeks.

An unnamed Reliance employee has claimed staff shortages at Edinburgh Sheriff Court in recent weeks have left staff at risk, with as few as two officers having to deal with 70 or more prisoners in holding bays.