After the slight dip observed last year, the prison population has increased by 4 per cent to an annual daily average of 8,178 for 2011-12. This represents a return to the overall rate of growth observed over the past decade, and population levels remain very high in relation to the current design capacity of about 7,840.
The current increase is driven by a marked increase of 11 per cent in the adult remand population and a somewhat smaller increase of 4 per cent for the adult direct sentenced population.
The total sentenced population (including recalls) has increased by 3 per cent, primarily due to marked increases in sentences between three months and two years (9 per cent overall), and more modest increases for the life sentence and recall populations which have increased by 5 and 3 per cent respectively.
During 2011-12, the average daily population increased by 4 per cent to 7,710 for men, while the female population increased by 8 per cent to 468. The young offender sentenced population showed a marked drop of 8 per cent to 556.
Receptions tend to show some year on year variation: the overall trend has been downward since 2006-07, although the most recent figures show an increase of 3 per cent for both remand and sentenced receptions.
The latest set of prison population projections suggest that the daily prison population in Scotland will increase from an annual average of 8,300 in 2012-13 to 9,500 by 2020-21. It should be noted that the projections are based on past trends and do not explicitly model the potential impact of future changes in policy or practice on the prison population.