Some years ago, as a newly-installed son of Millig, I was surprised when people told me that it was better to be in Helensburgh looking at Greenock than the other way round.

I thought this was a bit harsh, but then I did the maths. I only ever reported on one crime scene in Helensburgh when I was a journalist but seemed to go to one in Greenock every other week.

Like many places in Scotland, the town across the water from us has a Victorian prison, which I have visited many times as a reporter.

I stood outside it one day as the terminally-ill Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset Ali Al-Megrahi, left in a motorcade for Glasgow Airport to return home to Libya to die.

Most of my visits to Scotland’s jails were to cover the latest report by the Chief Inspector of Prisons, and this latest Greenock update makes interesting reading.

In essence, the report said that the staff were great and relationships with prisoners were good, but the fabric of the building was terrible and it should be replaced with a new, state-of-the-art facility.

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Quite possibly because I’m old fashioned, I’m not all that bothered how terrible conditions are in jails, because if they’re awful places people might be minded to do all they can to avoid going there.

I’ve been in pretty well every jail in Scotland and I have to say I’ve had a harder time in the Army. Anyone who has been to Sandhurst, Dartmouth or Lympstone, and who has come out the other side, would undoubtedly concur.

And the prospect of spending millions on a new facility to keep prisoners warm and comfortable is risible at a time when our elderly are struggling with ridiculous energy costs, and while people wonder how they’re going to feed their children and keep a roof over their heads as rent and mortgages become unaffordable and fuel and food prices keep going up.

I have followed many criminals from the crime scene to the court room and seen at first hand the impact on victims and their families. Some of what I’ve seen will haunt me forever – and if it does that to me, what does it do to the parents of the murdered teenager? I don’t think prison being a cold, damp, uncomfortable place is a bad thing at all.

And while we’re at it, I don’t give a hoot whether or not a criminal is rehabilitated while inside. We must stop thinking that prison is about the prisoner. It’s not. Prison is about society being safer while criminals are locked up.