Scotland has highest prison population in EU, study reveals

Barlinnie Prison
Barlinnie Prison
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SCOTLAND’S prison population rate has risen by more than 10 per cent in a decade, according to a major new report.

The study by the Council of Europe found there are around 148 people in jail per 100,000 population in Scotland, compared with the European average of 136.

The report, which is based on figures up to 2014, found there are 95,248 people behind bars in the UK, including 7,879 in Scotland - the highest prison population in the European Union.

Of the 50 prison administrations examined in the study, only Russia and Turkey had more inmates, with 671,027 and 151,451 respectively.

While the prison population rate in England and Wales rose by 4.9 per cent between 2005 and 2014, the corresponding rise for Scotland was 10.7 per cent.

Last month, a host of experts called for prison sentences of up to one year to be scrapped in favour of community-based alternatives.

The Scottish Government has been consulting on proposals to strengthen the presumption against short periods of imprisonment, which currently sits at three months.

READ MORE: In detail: Scotland’s prison population

Lib Dem justice spokeswoman Alison McInnes MSP said: “The Scottish prison population is one of the highest in Western Europe and we know that last year over 4,000 people received a custodial sentence of up to three months, despite the presumption against sentences of that length being in place since 2010.

“Short-term jail sentences are costly and ineffective. They do nothing to reduce re-offending levels, with around 60 per cent of offenders sent to prison for three months or less re-convicted within a year of being released.”

According to the report, Scotland has the highest prison population density in the UK at 97.6 per 100 places.

There were 1,010 prisoners serving a life sentence, compared with 466 in France, 1,953 in Germany and 1,599 in Italy.

The percentage of inmates serving a life sentence was 16.2 per cent - among the highest in Europe, where the average was three per cent.

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