Scotland’s prison population rate remains above the European average

Scotland has the highest prison population rate in the UK and one of the highest in Europe, according to a new report.

The Council of Europe, made up of 47 nations, today published its Annual Penal Statistics for 2021compiled by the University of Lausanne.

In January 2021, the prison population rate per 100,000 population was 134.9 in Scotland, 131.5 in England and Wales and 73.8 in Northern Ireland; this compares to a European average of 116.1 and a median of 101.8.

The countries with the largest total number of detainees were Russia (478,714), Turkey (272,115), the United Kingdom (87,035), Poland (67,894), France (62,673), Germany (59,045), Spain (55,110), Italy (53,329) and Ukraine (49,520).

Between January 2020 and January 2021, incarceration rates dropped significantly in 30 out of 48 prison administrations across Europe; incarceration rates fell by 10.9% in Northern Ireland, 8.0% in Scotland and 4.9% in England and Wales during this period.

Over the 10 years between 2011 and 2021, incarceration rates have fallen by 31.6% in Northern Ireland, 23.4% in England and Wales and 13.8% in Scotland.

The countries reporting the lowest age of criminal responsibility were England and Wales, Northern Ireland and Switzerland (all at 10), followed by Scotland, Andorra, Ireland, the Netherlands and Turkey (12 years).

As of 31 January 2021, not counting countries with populations under 300,000, the prison administrations with the highest percentage of remand prisoners were Albania (50%), Armenia (47%), Switzerland ( 46%), the Netherlands (45%), Luxembourg (43%), Montenegro (42%), Denmark (41%), Northern Ireland (40%), Belgium (38%), Croatia (36%) , Ukraine (36%), Slovenia (33%) and Italy (32%).

In England and Wales, 6,985 out of a total of 67,352 convicted prisoners were serving a life sentence in January 2021; this compares to 483 life-sentenced prisoners in France, 1,782 in Germany and 1,783 in Italy.

19.2% of prisoners in Northern Ireland were sentenced to life imprisonment in January 2021, the highest proportion in Europe; this compares to 18.1% of prisoners in Scotland, 10.4% in England and Wales and a European average of 3.3% and a median of 1.7%.

The average amount spent per prisoner per day in 2020 was €205.51 in Northern Ireland, €147.06 in England and Wales and €125.00 in Scotland; this compares to a European average of €186.7 and a median of €77.