Statistical News Release
A National Statistics Publication for Scotland
November 9, 2007
PRISON POPULATION PROJECTIONS, SCOTLAND, 2007-2008 to 2016-2017
The latest set of prison population projections, prepared in October 2007, show that the average daily prison population (excluding prisoners on home detention curfew) is projected to increase to 8,500 in 2016-2017. These projections take into account recent trends in the prison population, including final data for 2006 and the latest available data for the first 8 months of 2007.
The prison population in the first 8 months of 2007 has been higher than anticipated and this is reflected in the latest set of prison population projections, which project higher increases in the future population than the September 2006 projections. The current high prison population and the higher projected prison population is due to the increase in the average daily population of prisoners on remand (1,567 in 2006-2007 compared to 1,242 in 2005-2006).
The 2006-2007 average daily prison population which was projected to increase to 7,100 (rounded to nearest 100) reached 7,183. However, if early release on home detention curfew had not been introduced in July 2006, the 2006-2007 average daily prison population would have been higher.
Low risk prisoners sentenced to less than four years are eligible for release early from their sentences on Home Detention Curfew (HDC) where they are monitored by an electronic tag, have restrictions placed on their movements and can be returned to custody if the breach the conditions of their HDC. The average daily population of prisoners on HDC increased from 92 in July 2006 to 287 in November 2006 and has remained approximately 300 since then. If HDC had not been available then these prisoners would have been accommodated within prison.
Table 1 overleaf shows the prison population projections to 2016-2017. To show the total population that the Scottish Prison Service is responsible for and to estimate the impact if HDC was unavailable, we have assumed that the HDC population will remain at its current level and have added this estimate to the projected prison population. Note that the September 2006 projections did not take into account prisoners on HDC as there was insufficient data at that time (July and August 2006 figures only). Therefore cross year comparisons should be made using the first and fourth columns of table 1.
Issued by the Communications Branch of the Scottish Prison Service, Calton House, 5 Redheughs Rigg, Edinburgh EH12 9HW. For further information, call 0131-244 8476/8401(office); 244 8648 (fax); Pager number
01426 414 394; or E-Mail:James.O’Neill2@sps.gov.uk.
Table 1: Prison population projections for September 2006 and October 2007
September 2006 October 2007 Estimated HDC Projected plus
Projected Projected Population HDC population (1)7,100 7,183 (actual) 166 (actual) 7,348 (actual) 2006-2007
7,200 7,300 300 7,600 2007-2008
7,300 7,500 300 7,800 2008-2009
7,500 7,600 300 7,900 2009-2010
7,600 7,800 300 8,100 2010-2011
7,700 7,900 300 8,200 2011-2012
7,800 8,000 300 8,300 2012-2013
8,000 8,100 300 8,400 2013-2014
8,100 8,300 300 8,600 2014-2015
8,200 8,400 300 8,700 2015-2016
8,500 300 8,800 2016-2017
(1) Please note that the entries in this row may not add up exactly due to rounding.
NOTES FOR NEWS EDITORS
1. The prison population projections are not predictions or estimates, they are based on
extrapolation of past trends in the numbers entering custody and the sentencing trends
observed during the last 10-35 years. The projections do not depend on forecasts of crime
levels for the years ahead, as it is the sentencing behaviour of the courts which most
immediately determines the prison population. The projections assume that the
observed trends in sentencing behaviour will continue. If sentencing trends change in
the future these projections will not be realised.
2. Information on recent trends in the prison population in Scotland can be found in Annex A to
this news release. Details on the methodology used to produce the prison population
projections is described in Annex B.
3. Financial year information for 2006-2007 can be found in the Scottish Prison Service
Annual Report and Accounts for 2006-2007 (at
and in the Prison Statistics Scotland, 2006/07 bulletin (at
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2007/08/31102446/0 ) .
4. Further information on Criminal Justice statistics within Scotland can be accessed at:
5. Official statistics are produced by professionally independent statistical staff – more
information on the standards of official statistics in Scotland can be accessed at:
RECENT TRENDS IN THE PRISON POPULATION
Final figures show that the average daily prison population reached its highest annual level of 7,183 during 2006/07, 5% above the previous annual high of 6,857 experienced during 2005/06.
Assessment of trends in the prison population in 2006 and the first 8 months of 2007 have been complicated by the fact that population levels over the last five years have failed to follow the usual seasonal pattern, as illustrated in Charts 1 and 2. Levels during March/April traditionally show a seasonal high, which follows a marked dip in the average daily population figures in December/January. This seasonal low reflects the holiday period and the reduced number of court sitting days. As Chart 1 illustrates, the population in 2004 did follow the earlier seasonal pattern, however, later years have not. In 2006, the population increased steadily from January 2006, despite the introduction, in July 2006, of early release on home detention curfew for low risk prisoners. The December 2006 population was 7,115, 247 above the figure for January 2006. Following a peak in March 2007, the prison population reached the highest ever recorded monthly daily average of 7,405 in August 2007 (provisional figures).
Chart 1: Average daily prison population, January 2004 – August 2007
Table 2 displays the monthly population figures from January 2005 to August 2007. It shows that the monthly average daily population figures for each month in 2006 were consistently higher than the corresponding months in 2005. The population figures for the first 8 months of 2007 are also higher than those for the first 8 months of 2006.
Table 2: Monthly average daily population figures – January 2005 to August 2007
2005 2006 2007 2006v2005 2007v2005 2007v2006
6,484 6,868 7,070 5.9% 2.9% Jan 9.0%
6,750 6,916 7,265 2.5% 5.0% Feb 7.6%