Prisoners: prison population

In 2011-12, the average daily prison population was 8,178, an increase of 4% from 7,853 in 2010-11.  Of these 1,600 (20%) were on remand, an annual increase of 9%.  Overall, 94% were men and 6% were women (Ref: Prison Statistics Scotland 2011/12).

Over the ten year period, 2002-03 - 2011/12, the average daily prison population increased by 27%, with the female prison population having increased two and a half times (66%) that of the male population (25%) (Ref: Prison Statistics Scotland 2011/12).

Most prisoners (94%) are male, young (43% aged < 30 years, down from 48% in 2010/11) and white (96%) (Ref: Prison Statistics Scotland 2011/12).

Many are from deprived areas. Based on data from 2003, it was estimated that each year about 1 in 9 men aged 22-24 from the most deprived 27 wards in Scotland (2.2% of all wards) will spend some time in prison (Ref: Houchin R, 2005).

50% return to custody within 2 years, with half of these returning within six months (Ref: Ash R & Bigger H, 2003).

The most common causes of imprisonment remain non-sexual crimes of violence (35%). Serious assault and attempted murder is the main crime for 15% of sentenced prisoners, homicide for 13% and drug-related crimes for a further 15% (Ref: Prison Statistics Scotland 2011/12).

Scotland incarceration rate per 100,000 population is 146, similar to England and Wales (149) and Spain (144). This is higher than most other European Union countries including Northern Ireland (103), particularly the Nordic countries, but substantially lower than the US, the Russian Federation and the Baltic states. (Ref: International Centre for Prison Studies World Prison Brief).

NOTE: Hyper Links to the references can be found on the key data sources page.

Please note: If you require the most up-to-date data available, please check the data sources directly as new data may have been published since these data pages were last updated. Although we endeavour to ensure that the data pages are kept up-to-date, there may be a time lag between new data being published and the relevant ScotPHO web pages being updated.