Scotland's prison numbers fall for first time in decade

Prisoner in cell
Image caption The number of young offenders being held on remand and on direct sentences has fallen

Scotland's prison population has fallen for the first time in a decade, according to the latest figures.

Official statistics show the annual daily average for 2010-11 was 7,853, down 1% from the previous year.

However, the Scottish government said despite the slight drop prison levels remained very high.

There has also been an 18% reduction in the number of people allowed home with an electronic tag before the end of their sentence.

Projections published in March 2011 suggested a longer-term upward trend, with the prison population reaching 9,500 by 2019-20.

The number of people being held in prisons in Scotland has risen steadily since 2000-01.

The government said the current dip was primarily due to marked drops in the young offender population.

The number of young offenders on remand fell by 14% last year, while those there on direct sentences was down 17%.

The sentenced population has dropped by 1% overall, reaching 6,378 in 2010-11.

There has been a drop in prison levels across most sentence groups, however the number of people held on life sentences has increased by 5%.

During 2010-11, the average daily population for men fell by 2%, to 7,419.

The female prison population, however, rose by 3% to 435.

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