Scottish Prison Service (Auditor General’s Report)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 3rd December 2019.

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Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

There is a range of progressive reforms, and I mentioned some of them in my statement. I was pleased that the majority of the Parliament got behind the presumption against short sentences, which disproportionately affect women—if I remember correctly, around 90 per cent of women in our prisons are serving sentences of 12 months or less. Our investment in community alternatives to custody will also yield positive results, particularly when it comes to the female population.

As I mentioned in the statement, there is no silver bullet that will fix the prison population or lower it significantly. We have to be willing to look at radical and bold measures. Some of those will be uncomfortable to discuss in this chamber, but we have to discuss them if we want to see a reduction in our prison population. We can do that only by being progressive. I fear that the moment we have a knee-jerk reaction, perhaps in the face of some terrible tragedy, or we begin to become regressive, the prison population will simply increase, not decrease.