prison statistics

Scottish Imprisonment - Recent trends and Costs


  • On 10 October 2014 the total population of prisoners in custody in Scotland stood at 7,755.
  • Over one-third of the adult male population, and nearly one-tenth of the adult female population is likely to have at least one criminal conviction.
  • The imprisonment rate for Scotland stands at 147 per 100,000. England and Wales have an imprisonment rate of 149 per 100,000, France 102 per 100,000 and Germany 81 per 100,000.
  • In 2012–13, 14,758 people were given a custodial sentence, accounting for 15% of people found guilty of an offence, the highest proportion in the last 10 years.
  • The average length of a custodial sentence in 2012-13 was over nine months (283 days), this is 51 days longer than in 2006-07.
  • On 6 August 2010 a statutory presumption against short periods of imprisonment was decreed in the Scottish Parliament. The Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 states “a court must not pass a sentence of imprisonment for a term of three months or less on a person unless the court considers that no other method of dealing with the person is appropriate.”
  • The proportion of people receiving a sentence of up to 3 months has fallen from 53% of custodial sentences in 2006–07 to 29% in 2012–13.
  • The official capacity for all 15 Scottish prisons is 8,155.During 2013–14 an average of 7,835 prisoners were held in custody a slight fall on the previous year (2012–13, 8,014).
  • The average daily population of sentenced prisoners in 2013–14 fell slightly to 6,375.However, the remand population saw a slight increase over the same period, rising to 1,476.
  • There are currently 14 publicly managed prisons and two privately managed prisons, both run by Serco (HMP Kilmarnock and HMP Addiewell).Combined, the two private prisons held some 1,200 prisoners in 2013–14, 15% of Scotland’s prison population.
  • Recent changes to the prison estate include the closure of HMP Peterhead and HMP Aberdeen in December 2013 and January 2014 respectively, and the opening of HMP Grampian in March 2014, costing £77.7m to construct.
  • The average daily population on Home Detention Curfew (HDC) during 2013–14 was 364. In 2012–13 it was 363.
  • The average daily population of prisoners recalled from supervision or licence has increased by 36% to 701 in 2011–12, from 514 in 2006–07.108The most common reason for being recalled is for failure to comply with the technical conditions of the curfew rather than committing crimes while on HDC. Being out of curfew for more than six hours (38% of all recalls) and breach of licence conditions (24%) accounted for most recall activity. Offending while on licence appears only rarely to be the cause of recall (7% recalled for a new warrant served).
  • In 2012–13, just 10 custodial sentences were imposed on children under the age of 16.


  • The average annual cost per prisoner place for 2013–14 was £33,153, excluding capital charges, exceptional compensation claims and the cost of the escort contract. This is an increase of £1,227 on the previous year.
  • A 2011 report found that it costs £126 per week to keep someone on HDC, compared to a notional cost of £610 per week to keep them in prison.
  • Hugh Monro, former Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland, has stated that “Securing children, young offenders or prisoners is not a cheap option ... the cost of keeping a child in a Secure Unit can be as high as £250k per annum.”
  • Of the £419 million that Audit Scotland estimated was spent by authorities to deal with people sentenced in court in 2010–11, £254 million (61%) was spent restricting the liberty of offenders. 14% (£60.8 million) was spent on rehabilitation and 16% (£66.7 million) was spent on reintegration services to support prisoners moving back into the community.
  • The Scottish Government estimates that the total economic and social costs of reoffending are around £3 billion a year. Further research estimated the total cost of reoffending by a single cohort of offenders who had three or more previous convictions over a ten-year period was £5.4 billion. This is considered an under-estimate as it does not include all the costs incurred by bodies outside the criminal justice system.

Via The Bromley Briefings







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