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Last Updated: Friday, 23 February 2007, 18:06 GMT
Rise in jail population recorded
Prison officer
The prison service said staff were "coping well" with the numbers
Scotland's prison population increased by about 5% last year, statistics have revealed.

Scottish Prison Service figures showed that in 2006 the number of young offenders jailed in Scotland increased by 12% and female inmates rose by 6%.

Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson said measures had already been introduced to tackle the rising population.

The Scottish Conservatives said more prisons should be built while the SNP called for a review of sentencing.

The provisional statistics suggested that the average daily prison population increased by about 5% in 2006, to 7,111.

The average number of people locked up while awaiting trial rose by 24%.

'More pressure'

The figures also revealed the average number of prisoners sentenced to less than four years increased by about 3% to 2,776, while inmates serving longer sentences decreased by 2% to 2,854.

A Scottish Prison Service spokesman said staff were "coping extremely well" with the record numbers.

Ms Jamieson said: "More people in prison means more pressure on prison facilities, resources and staff.

"And this itself means less time to work with prisoners to address the behaviour that put them behind bars in the first place.

"That's why we are moving forward with action on three fronts."

Spain imprisons four times more people than Scotland relative to recorded crime, and Ireland three times more
Annabel Goldie
Scottish Conservative leader

The minister said measures introduced by the executive included an increased range of community sentences and record levels of investment in the prison estate.

However, Stewart Stevenson, the SNP prisons spokesman, said: "It's time for a credible and coherent prison policy that locks up dangerous offenders and deals with petty offenders in the community.

"Rather than filling up prisons with minor offenders and building private prisons that cost the taxpayer millions, an SNP government will ensure that prisons are used to detain dangerous criminals and punish serious offences."

Scottish Conservative leader Annabel Goldie said the executive should "have the courage" to build more prisons if they are needed.

"Spain imprisons four times more people than Scotland relative to recorded crime, and Ireland three times more," she said.

"Unsurprisingly, the deterrent is such that crimes per capita in both Ireland and Spain are around a quarter of the level here.

"The proper use of prison will eventually lead to a reduction in prisoner numbers, but that will only happen when more police are in our communities, we end the scandal of automatic early release, we adopt a zero-tolerance approach to drugs and put in place effective rehabilitation services."




SEE ALSO
Low Moss prison to close in May
22 Feb 07 |  Glasgow and West
100m prison given the go-ahead
03 Jan 07 |  Glasgow and West
Jail overcrowding 'being tackled'
01 Nov 06 |  Scotland
Prison numbers hit 'record high'
25 Aug 06 |  Scotland
New private prison gets go-ahead
21 Jun 06 |  Edinburgh and East
Inmates 'still live in WW2 dorms'
15 Jul 04 |  Scotland
Plans put forward for new jail
29 Jul 03 |  Scotland

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