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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 September, 2003, 13:15 GMT 14:15 UK
Prison numbers hit record high
Prisoner in cell
Daily remand prisoners are said to be the cause of the rise
The number of inmates in Scottish prisons has risen to its highest level, according to statistics.

Scottish Executive figures show that the average daily population increased by 4% between 2001 and 2002 to just over 6,400.

The number of female prisoners rose 11% to its highest ever annual figure.

The Scottish Executive called the figures an "alarm call" which proved the system was not working.

The overall rise was attributed to a 27% increase in daily remand prisoners awaiting trial.

There was however a drop in the average population of young offenders, aged between 16 and 21, which fell 8% to just under 600.

Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson said large numbers of serial offenders serving short sentences were "an alarm call" that the present system was not working effectively and needed reform.

Average daily population up 4%, from 6,137 to 6,404
Average daily remand population up 27%, from 960 to 1,222
Average daily female prison population up 11%, from 249 to 277
Average population of sentenced young offenders down 8%, from 650 to 597
"Seven out of 10 of those convicted of crimes have a previous conviction," she said.

"Serial criminals who are processed rather than rehabilitated and who return time and time again to a life of crime.

"Investment in the Scottish Prison Service and local authority criminal justice social work services has risen by 45% over the past decade - yet there has been almost no change in the numbers reoffending after serving both custodial and non-custodial sentences.

"We need to find out what is not working - and fix it."

Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: "These figures are really disappointing given the Scottish Executive's determination to cut down prison numbers.

"You can do both but you have to persuade people that community penalties are not soft options.

"Simply building more prisons is not going to cut crime and reconviction rates - you have to tackle the causes."

Two new prisons are to be built in Scotland to cope with the rising population. Sites at Addiewell in West Lothian and Low Moss in Glasgow are favoured.

The figures also contain a snapshot of the prison population taken on 30 June 2002. About 96% of inmates were men and half were aged between 25 and 39.

The BBC's Reevel Alderson
"Campaigners want action to tackle the number of remand prisoners"

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