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Figures show only one third of prisoners on education programmes

July 28, 2013 10:49 AM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

Scottish Liberal Democrats have revealed that only one third of prisoners have been in education programmes in Scotland's prisons over the last six months. In an answer to a Liberal Democrat parliamentary question figures provided by the Scottish Prison Service showed that over the last six months an average of 2483 prisoners in Scotland's prisons had attended an education programme. This is despite resources being available for access in a number of Scotland's prisons.

Reoffending rates have remained stubbornly high in Scotland. An Audit Scotland report published last year, 'Reducing Reoffending', found that 30 percent of convicted offenders were reconvicted within one year of release. The Scottish Government estimates that the total economic and social costs of reoffending are about £3 billion each year.

Commenting, Ms McInnes said:

"Education programmes represent a real opportunity for prisons to turn over a new leaf so it is disappointing that prisoners are still not taking up the offer to learn a new trade or gain qualifications while serving time. Our figures show that only one third of prisoners in Scotland have attended education programmes in the past six months.

"In the face of stubbornly high reconviction rates this is a problem which we cannot afford to ignore. Engaging with education must be a fundamental part of Scotland's prisons. It can equip offenders with additional skills so that they can make a meaningful contribution to their community upon release.

"It is a waste of taxpayer funds if prisoners are released having only become further removed from society and more closely attached to circles of crime.

"The Scottish Government must redouble their efforts to engage offenders with the learning resources on offer in our prisons. To allow the uptake of education to flat-line in our prisons would not only fail the people we are trying to rehabilitate, but the communities we return them to."