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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-07964: Liam McArthur (Orkney Islands)

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Date lodged: 9 March 2017

To ask the Scottish Government whether, in light of the briefing paper, Why focus on reducing women's imprisonment in Scotland? by the Prison Reform Trust, which notes that (a) the number of women imprisoned increased by 46% in the 10 years since 2003–04, growing at a faster rate than men’s prison population, (b) this growth can be attributed to the increasing use of custodial sentences by courts rather than changes in the pattern of offending, and (c) 85% of pregnant women in prison in 2015 were there on remand or serving sentences of 12 months or less, it will accelerate its consideration of raising the presumption against short-term sentences to 12 months.

Answered by: Michael Matheson 22 March 2017

The number of women in custody in Scotland has gone down in recent years - the average daily female prison population has in fact fallen by over 6% since 2013-14 in line with similar reductions in the overall prison population - and we are working hard to continue that trend.

The proposal to extend the presumption against short sentences is one part of this Government's wide ranging work to reduce the use of short-term imprisonment - for both men and women - in favour of more robust community sentences. As previously noted, we continue to discuss with the relevant stakeholders how best to take this proposal forward.