Death rate in Scotland's prisons among highest in Europe

Scotland has one of the highest rates of prisoner deaths in Europe, according to newly published figures.

Figures show Scotland's prisons have some of Europe's highest mortality rates

Statistics from the Council of Europe show the mortality rate per 10,000 inmates is 39.0 compared with a median of 26.3 across all countries.

According to the annual report, there were 29 deaths in Scottish prisons in 2018.

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Other countries with high rates of death were predominately in eastern Europe, including Russia (51.0), Bulgaria (51.5) and Moldova (55.0), although the rate in Portugal was 51.3.

The mortality rate per 10,000 inmates was 35.0 in England and Wales, 21.7 in Italy, 22.0 in France and 25.4 in Germany. The figure for Sweden was 7.0.

Scotland’s prison population rate was 136.5 compared with the Europe-wide median of 102.5.

Justice secretary Humza Yousaf has previously said Scotland’s population is “not a statistic to be proud of”.

The Scottish Government has introduced a presumption against prison sentences of 12 months or less – up from the existing three-month limit – as part of a drive to cut the number of inmates.

Scotland’s prison population hit 8,020 towards the end of February, compared with a post-devolution high of 8,400 in 2012.