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

I do not have the exact figures to hand, but I will provide them to Daniel Johnson.

I would go further on the member’s point: overcrowded prisons—prisons that have more people in them than they were designed to have—have an effect on rehabilitation. There are only so many members of staff who can take prisoners on rehabilitative programmes. Overcrowding also has an effect on morale in a prison. For example, it will affect the amount of time that prisoners have out of their cells. Frustrations can build up and there can then be issues for staff safety. Therefore, there is a range of reasons why we do not want our prisons to be running above their designed capacity.

We will do a lot to tackle the issue, such as introducing the presumption against short sentences and other measures. However, if we want to make the change, which might take 10, 15 or 20 years, as was the case in Finland and the Netherlands, which successfully made the change, we will need to work collectively and take the public with us on the journey. We need to put the appropriate safeguards in place and look for some radical solutions to how we reduce the prison population.