March 2, 2024

Prisons & COVID: Scotland

This page contains information and resources on the Scottish penal system and the Scottish Prison Service.

World Prison Population Briefing: United Kingdom Scotland

The Scottish Prison Service: Unlocking Potential, Transforming Lives

United Kingdom Prison Population Statistics: “The average daily prison population increased from just under 2,700 in 1900 to just under 8,200 in 2017/18 (more than double). As in England and Wales, from the mid-1940s the prison population increased steadily until the 1970s where it remained relatively stable. Since 1990 the prison population again increased by 58%, reaching 8,179 in 2011/12 and its highest ever point of 8,198 in 2019/20.19
The average daily prison population increased by 204% between 1900 and 2019/20. To put this increase into context the figure should be considered alongside population growth in Scotland – from approximately 3 million to 4.6 million (54%).”

Understanding The Scottish Criminal Justice System: “The Act of Union 1707 between Scotland and England permitted Scotland to retain its separate legal system, which continued to be administered in Scotland. This meant that, even prior to devolution; the Scottish justice system had its own court system, its own police forces, its own prosecution service and its own prison and criminal justice social work services.”

COVID-19 in Scottish Prisons

December 2020: Scottish Prison Service: COVID-19 Information Hub

October 2020: Coronavirus: More than 250 inmates self-isolating in Scotland’s largest prison

May 2020: Sixth prisoner death in Scotland linked to coronavirus

Scottish Legal History: An Overview: “Legal historians tend to focus on the development of the Scottish legal system from the feudal period onward, since little is known about Scottish law prior to A.D. 1,000. Early Scottish law can be described as an amalgam of Celtic, Welsh, Irish, Norse, and Anglo-Saxon laws and customs, with various geographical regions experiencing one or more of these influences. For example, Celtic customs were more pronounced in the Gaelic Highlands, whereas on the outlying islands, Norse law and customs were the direct result of previous Scandinavian occupation. The Norman Conquest of England in 1066, and the marriage of Malcolm III to Margaret in 1070, contributed to Anglo-Saxon influence on the Scottish church and state.”

A Scottish Prisons Timeline: This document shows a Scottish prison timeline.

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