Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Prisons full - crime down. Related?

Fact 1: Scottish prison numbers are 22.8% above design capacity and the Chief Exec of the Scottish Prisons Service said that an incident could force the emergency release of prisoners due to lack of space. The current capacity is 6,625 with a mid September count at 8,137. Last week Barlinnie held 1764 prisoners in a building designed for 1,018. Our prisons are full to bursting.
Fact 2: In the year to 31st March 2008 reported crime was down 7%. That is a very significant reduction after 9 years of relative stability in crimes reported and a general increase in offences.

Would you consider there could be a relationship between the two facts above? What astonished me earlier this evening was that the Justice Secretary, Kenny McAskall, the BBC reporter and interviewer on Scotland at Ten (Radio Scotland) did not seem to have contemplated any connection. I was being interviewed on the programme and was able to counter their assumptions by suggesting both from common sense and experience that there is an element of correlation between the two. More people in prisons generally mean less crimes committed on the street. Click here to listen to the interview. Next click on 'listen' and then you will need to move the slider forward to 17 mins 10 seconds into the programme to get the item and a little further to get Derek Bateman's interview with Richard Baker MSP and myself on prisons and crime. Don't be too harsh - I'm just learning how to do these interviews.

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