Prisons chief warns against use of short sentences

David Strang

Too many people are being given short prison sentences which do not deter reoffending, Scotland’s chief inspector of prisons has said in a new report.

David Strang lent his support to Scottish government plans to bring in a presumption against sentences of fewer than 12 months but said there still a “lot of work to do” for those already in jail.

In his annual report, Mr Strang said there are too many people held on remand, with almost 15 per cent of Scotland’s 7,500 prisoner population comprising inmates on remand.

He said: “The re-conviction rates are high for people who have served short sentences.

“If the community alternatives can be geared to help people stay in employment or teach them new skills, they’re less likely to re-offend.

“All the evidence is that with a community order, people are less likely to offend – that should help reduce crime and the number of people going back into prisons.”

He added: “We imprison more than 50 per cent above the European average and our crime rates don’t warrant that.

“People with mental health problems and addictions are being given short sentences when they really need alternative treatment to what’s provided in prison.”

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