Summary statistics on prisons
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The prison population has risen from its lowest point at the end of May 2020. Friday population figures published by the Scottish Prison Service, show that the prison population rose from around 7,500 in April 2018 to around 8,300 in November 2019, but fell sharply in the early days of the lockdown in 2020. This was due to a drop in the number of sentenced admissions following the Covid-19 outbreak and the early release of prisoners.
The population has since stabilised between 7,300 and 7,600 and was 7,588 on 1st May 2023.
The remand population was at its lowest point of 1,114 on 24th April 2020, but grew to over 2,000 by September 2020. The remand population has grown significantly since, and exceeded previous records on 1st February 2022 to a new peak of 2,292. It has since fallen slightly to 2,140 (28% of the total prison population) on 1st May 2023.
Further detail on prison population
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In April 2023 (up until the morning of Monday 1st May 2023):
- the population increased by 81 to 7,588
- 2,140 were on remand: 1,842 (24%) untried & 298 (4%) awaiting sentence
- 66% of arrivals were untried (600 of 910), and 15% awaiting sentence (137)
While the overall prison population is lower than pre-pandemic levels, the number of people held on remand remains at a historic high. The changing population levels across groups that are required by law to be housed separately – like those on remand – pose difficulties in the management of the prison population.
The remand population grew during March through November 2021, exceeding its previous recorded peak. In line with previous years, overall numbers and remand populations fell during December 2021, hitting a low of 7,433 (2,061 remand) over Christmas before rebounding.
The remand population peaked on 1st February 2022 at 2,292 (30%) – the highest daily number on record. On 25th December the prison population hit its lowest level since recovery from the pandemic system shock in July 2020 (7,251; remand 1,950).
Time on Remand to Date
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Among the 2,140 people on remand as of the morning of Monday 1st May 2023, the median continuous time spent with this status to date was 71.5 days.
Note: The remand population includes individuals whose trial has commenced but not concluded, as well as those awaiting commencement of a trial. As a result, the figures referenced above reflect only that an individual has held the same status for an extended period, but do not reflect the relationship between these times on remand and the ongoing court procedure(s) to which they relate.
Remand Arrival Offences
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There were 682 remand arrivals to prison with known offence types in April, awaiting trial or sentence for the following alleged offences.
Note: Double-counting may occur where an individual arrives, is absent from prison for one or more nights in the month, and then returns before the end of the period. Where an individual has multiple alleged offence types in a single stint, the offence towards the top of the list in the chart is used as the index offence.
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