Scottish Government Equality Outcomes: Religion and Belief Evidence Review

This evidence review was prepared to support the production of the Scottish Government's Equality Outcomes, with regard to religion.


9.1 This section reviews the religious composition of the prison population and of the legal profession, and looks at access to justice.

9.2 Scotland's prison statistics show that 29% of offenders in custody stated they belonged to the Church of Scotland while 23% were Roman Catholic[41]. By comparison, 42% of Scotland's population are Church of Scotland, and Roman Catholics make up only 16%[42]. Forty percent of offenders in custody say they do not have a religion. This proportion of 'no religion' was higher for female offenders (50%) than male offenders (39%).

9.3 A 2006 survey of the legal profession in Scotland[43] found that:

  • 37% considered themselves to be Church of Scotland.
  • 36% considered they had no religion/faith.
  • 13% considered they were Roman Catholic.
  • 7% considered they were other Christian.
  • 1% or less considered they were in each of the categories of Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, Sikh and other.
  • 3% did not state a religion/faith in response to the question (in contrast to those who responded that they had no religion/faith).

9.4 Within the Scottish legal profession, between 2006 and 2009, there was minimal change in the numbers relating to religious belief[44]. Those indicating affiliation to the Church of Scotland fell from 37% to 35%, whilst those of Roman Catholic faith rose slightly from 13% to 14%. Groups defined as 'other Christian' remained the same at 7%. Those not affiliating themselves with any religious group rose from 36% to 39% over the same time frame. Those refraining from answering fell from 3% to 2%.

9.5 Regarding access to justice and legal aid, no published information has yet been found on the religion of applicants for civil or criminal legal aid. The Scottish Legal Aid Board[45] currently publishes equality statistics on legal aid by gender and age only; its sample sizes for disability and ethnicity are too small to report. Its client satisfaction survey[46] analyses respondents by age, disability and ethnicity, but not by religion. The Scottish Legal Aid Board expects[47] to publish surveys of applicants for both civil and criminal legal aid during 2013.


Email: Social Research

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