Fewer women should be held in jail on remand a Glasgow MSP has said after it was found that one in four women in prison in Scotland are still awaiting trial.

Pauline McNeill, Glasgow Labour MSP, said that it has a massive impact on women’s lives and many are either found not guilty or do not get a jail sentence if convicted.

The MSP raised the issue with community safety minister, Ash Denham, at the Scottish Parliament and asked what the Scottish Government was doing to reduce the numbers on remand.

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McNeill, said: “Time spent in prison can have a catastrophic effect on women’s lives, causing them to lose their home, custody of their children and their job.

Glasgow Times:

“Amnesty International reminds us that the detention of individuals who are awaiting trial is a matter of special concern because they have yet to be found guilty of any offence and are therefore innocent in the eyes of the law.”

She said Scotland had a greater proportion of women on remand than prisons in the rest of the United Kingdom. She told the minister, three quarters will not get a custodial sentence, adding “something is not right”.

A report by the Howard League Scotland shows that in February 2020 there were 76 women on remand out of a prison population of 388 or 19.6%.

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One year later it was 75 out of 291 or 25.8%

For men, in February 2020 there were 1217 or 15.9% on remand out of a total 7629 in prison.

A year later it was 1672 out of 7103 or 23.5% of the total prison population.

Glasgow Times:

McNeill added: “Of people held on remand, 57 per cent do not go on to receive a prison sentence either they are found not guilty or they receive a community sentence.

“I am not confident that the Scottish Government really accepts the importance of the issue and the human rights considerations.”

Ms Denham said that, while remand was a matter for the independent courts, the government believes there are too many women held on remand.

She said: “We absolutely recognise how destructive periods of remand are to individuals, families and communities.

“Remand should be used only when it is absolutely necessary to protect public safety and where no appropriate alternative exists.”

McNeill asked about the human rights aspect of holding someone on bail when they are considered innocent at that point.

Glasgow Times:

Ms Denham said: “ In Scots law, there is generally a presumption in favour of bail, and that is a requirement of the European convention on human rights.”

She listed other work being carried out in the area by the Scottish Government, including in alternatives to remand.

Electronically monitored bail, bail supervision, and there additional funding into community justice, were among those mentioned.