Prison Population

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 15th January 2019.

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Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

The member makes the very valid point that we need to ensure that the public, politicians, and I, as the cabinet secretary, have confidence in our community payback orders. Despite some of the difficulties and flaws in the current regime that he has pointed out, the evidence speaks for itself. Someone who is serving a short sentence is twice as likely to reoffend than someone who is on a community payback order. The evidence is indisputable. The UK Government has acknowledged that, given its proposals to ban short sentences of six months or less, except for violent and sexual offences.

If all the political parties are on board and agree that the prison population and the rate per head are far too high, let us put our minds together and think about what other radical steps we can take. It is not only ourselves that we need to take on this journey; as the member’s question alludes to, we also need to take with us members of the public, who might not consider alternatives to custody to be a particularly robust sentence disposal at the moment. There is a lot of work for the Government to do but, equally, there is a role for all of us to play collectively.