Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur has today warned that new figures show that the SNP is failing to manage the prison estate and urged them to get a grip on the use of remand after it was revealed that there are currently 1,528 people in prison who were accommodated with another person in a cell intended for one person.
His comments follow reports in February that Chief Inspector of Prisons Wendy Sinclair Gieben had written to ministers calling for urgent legislation to end the imprisonment of 16 and 17-year-olds in favour of secure care facilities.
Figures reported by the BBC show that last year 120 under-18s were sent to prison in Scotland, with most being there on remand.
Mr McArthur said:
"Increasing numbers of Scots are being held without a trial having taken place. These figures show that more than 1,500 are crammed into prison cells designed for a single occupant. The SNP are hopelessly mismanaging the prison estate with record overcrowding and spiralling rates of self-harm.
"The Chief Inspector of Prisons’ recent intervention posed serious challenges to the Scottish Government’s approach to locking up young people but there are also wider issues around the use of remand that need to be addressed.
“Far too many of those locked up are people who haven’t been convicted. The SNP need to tackle lengthy court delays which are preventing people from having their cases heard and preventing victims from seeing justice done.
"We need proper investment in bail supervision orders and electronic tagging so that remand is only used where it is necessary to safeguard communities and public safety."