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14 July 2015
Scotland's prison population at seven-year low

Scotland's prison population at seven-year low

Prison numbers in Scotland have fallen to their lowest level in seven years, according to latest figures.

The annual daily average prison population in the year to March 31 dropped to 7,731, the lowest figure since 2007-08.

It marks the third year in succession prison numbers have come down after reaching a record high in 2011-12 of almost 8,200.

However, the number of remand prisoners also rose for the third year running, up 3.3 per cent to 1,525.

The latest figures, which are contained within the Scottish Prison Service’s (SPS) annual report, show overall numbers in custody are down 1.5 per cent from 7,851 a year earlier.

The drop is largely attributable to a sharp fall in the number of young offenders being sent to prison. Polmont held 50 fewer young men on average each day in 2014-15 compared to 2013-14.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We are determined to target the use of prison where it can be most effective – in punishing serious crime and protecting the public.

“We are working with relevant justice partners to take forward a range of initiatives to promote alternatives to custodial sentences. This includes extending access to community based justice, consulting on proposals to strengthen the presumption against short sentences and testing the most effective ways of reducing the use of remand and short prison sentences in a number of pathfinder sites.

“This reflects the clear evidence that early diversion and community sentences are more effective than short custodial sentences in reducing reoffending.”    

The latest figures are based on internal figures held by the SPS with official statistics yet to be published by the Scottish Government.

Technical difficulties have prevented publication of prison statistics and population projections since June 2012. Data for 2012-13 and 2013-14 is expected to be published this summer.

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