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Statistical Release Crime and Justice Series: Scottish prison population projections: 2009-10 to 2018-19

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Current projections

The latest set of prison population projections suggests that the daily prison population in Scotland will increase from an annual average of 8,100 in 2009-10 to 9,600 by 2018-19 (Table 1). These projections take into account recent trends in the prison population, including the latest available data for the first 10 months of 2009.

Table 1 Prison population projections: October 2008 and October 2009

October 2008
average daily population

October 2009
average daily population

Estimated home detention curfew population

Projected plus HDC population

2008-09

7,700

7,835 (actual)

371 (actual)

8,206 (actual)

2009-10

8,000

8,100

370

8,470

2010-11

8,200

8,400

370

8,770

2011-12

8,500

8,700

370

9,070

2012-13

8,700

8,800

370

9,170

2013-14

8,800

9,000

370

9,370

2014-15

9,000

9,100

370

9,470

2015-16

9,200

9,200

370

9,570

2016-17

9,400

9,400

370

9,770

2017-18

9,600

9,500

370

9,870

2018-19

9,600

370

9,970

Note: Estimated home detention curfew population is based on current levels with the assumption that they will remain stable.

The prison population in the first 10 months of 2009 has been consistently high, with levels similar to those observed during the latter part of 2008. The recent increase is reflected in the current projections, which give somewhat higher numbers in the short to medium term than the October 2008 projections, confirming the steady upward trend observed since 2000.

The increase has been across all main prisoner groups. There has been a gradual increase in the long-term population (sentenced to four years or more) over the years. The remand population showed a marked increase during 2006, which has also contributed to the current high prison population.

However, the main driver for the record population levels seen so far in 2008 and 2009 are the numbers of short-term prisoners (sentenced to less than four years). These have increased steadily since 2007, and the rate of increase accelerated markedly during 2008 and 2009. These trends are described in more detail in the next section.