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Last Updated: Friday, 26 August 2005, 16:21 GMT 17:21 UK
Prison population at record level
More adults are being imprisoned for violent crimes
The number of prisoners in Scottish jails has risen to its highest level, according to official figures.

The Scottish Executive statistics showed the average daily population rose by 2% over the past year, with almost 7,000 people behind bars.

The biggest rise was in the number of women in prison, which was up 6%.

About 5% more adults were serving longer periods for violent crimes but 2% fewer young offenders were receiving custodial sentences.

The Scottish Prison Service publication showed the change in average daily population figures between 2003/04 and 2004/05.

The study found that Scotland jailed more people per head than Canada, Germany, France and several other European countries.

It revealed more than four in 10 of Scotland's inmates had committed violent crimes and that the number of long-term adult prisoners was on the increase.

Defaults on fines

The number of short-term adult prisoners, those sentenced to less than four years (excluding fine defaulters), increased by 4%.

The number of long-term adult prisoners, those sentenced to four years or more (including life sentences and recalls), increased by 5% to 2,766.

But the number of young offenders and fine defaulters being jailed fell slightly over the year.

We need to stop this overuse of prisons
Sue Matheson
Sacro Scotland

The number of people dealt with for defaulting on fine payments fell by 11% from 6,888 to 6,098.

This could reflect Scottish Executive policies to reduce custodial sentences for these groups.

The study also found that the average daily remand population had decreased by 2% over the year.

The Scottish Tories said there had been an "alarming" 15% rise in the number of prisoners who had breached terms of the automatic early release scheme.

'Reduce reoffending'

Home affairs spokeswoman Annabel Goldie said: "The Scottish Conservatives have long argued that this system should be scrapped and is quite literally creating needless victims.

"Every crime committed by someone on automatic early release is a crime that should never have happened."

Sue Matheson, from community safety organisation Sacro Scotland, said it was time to look at alternatives.

She said: "The executive are focusing very strongly on a strategy to reduce reoffending.

"To do that effectively we need to stop this overuse of prisons.

"We know that prison makes reoffending more likely and what we need is a presumption against imprisonment."

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10 Aug 05 |  Scotland
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01 Jun 05 |  Scotland
Prison population hits new high
25 Feb 05 |  Scotland

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