Prison Population

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

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Photo of Liam McArthur Liam McArthur Liberal Democrat

I thank the Cabinet Secretary for Justice for the candour of his response and for his confirmation that, as was the case back in June, the Government is

“committed to reducing the use of imprisonment”.—[

Written Answers

, 12 June 2018; S5W-16923.]

Fast forward six months from that parliamentary answer and the average prison population is up by around 300, meaning that the number of prisons operating at or over capacity has more than doubled. Prisons are jam packed and staff are warning of the impact that that is having.

The Scottish Government has said that it has acted on “almost all” the recommendations of the decade-old Scottish Prisons Commission, but the experts then were critical of a prison population of just over 7,000 and wanted to see a reduction to 5,000. As the cabinet secretary has confirmed, the number of prisoners is now 8,000. Can he therefore explain the reason for that failure?