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Last Updated: Friday, 25 August 2006, 15:37 GMT 16:37 UK
Prison numbers hit 'record high'
Prisoner in cell
There are more inmates in Scotland's jails than ever before
The number of inmates in Scotland's prisons has risen to its highest level, according to statistics.

Figures published by the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) show the average daily prison population in 2005/06 was 6,857 - a 1% rise on the previous year.

The number of female inmates also climbed significantly over the past decade.

The SPS said an alternative to custody should impact on jail numbers, but the SNP criticised the increase.

Between 1996/97 and 2005-06 the average daily female prison population rose by 77% to 334.

However, last year's average was only marginally higher than the figure of 332 from 2004/05.

The executive has also introduced a number of alternatives to custody which should an impact on these numbers
SPS spokesman

On an average day last year 400 inmates were offenders who had been recalled to jail after being out on licence or supervision - up by 12% from 2004/05 when it was 356.

There was also a 12% rise in the number of young offenders in custody, with an average population of 620 last year compared to 553 the previous year.

And there was a slight increase in the average daily number of prisoners who were being held on remand awaiting trail.

This rose by 2% from 1,216 in 2004/05 to 1,242 the following year.

Sentencing options

The number of long-term adult prisoners serving sentences of four years or more fell by 2%, from 2,766 to 2,724.

But there was a 2% rise in the number of short-term prisoners sentenced to less than four years, which climbed from 2,178 in 2004-05 to 2,217 last year.

There were an average of 53 people behind bars every day last year for not paying fines, down 12% on the previous year's figure of 61.

An SPS spokesman said: "Prison numbers have been high and continue to be high."

But he said the Scottish Executive was investing a record amount in the prison estate, adding that two new prisons were planned.

Prison cell
The SNP said only serious offenders should serve time in jail

"The executive has also introduced a number of alternatives to custody which should have an impact on these numbers," he added.

SNP justice spokesman Kenny MacAskill said only dangerous criminals and serious offenders should be sent to prison.

He said: "Under this Labour and Lib Dem Government we now see too many fine defaulters and minor offenders in our prisons who would be better punished in the community or have their addiction problems tackled there."

Mr MacAskill said an SNP government would ensure prisons were used to detain dangerous criminals and punish serious offences.

"Minor offenders and fine defaulters can be more appropriately, and cost effectively, punished in the community with non-custodial sentences and addiction services," he added.

See the reasons behind the rise

Possible rise in inmate numbers
25 Nov 05 |  Scotland
Prison report overcrowding fears
27 Sep 05 |  Scotland
Prisons 'fail' long-term inmates
16 May 05 |  Scotland

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