Scotland

Jail terms for women 'vary greatly', statistics show

Retired sheriff Peter Gillam

Statistics released under Freedom of Information legislation have shown significant variations in the proportion of jail sentences handed down in sheriff courts across Scotland.

Courts such as Stirling, Kilmarnock and Dundee were jailing nearly 20% of women appearing before them, compared to 7% in Edinburgh and 5% in Airdrie.

The judiciary said it was not appropriate for an active sheriff to be interviewed for the programme, but retired sheriff Peter Gillam gave the view from the bench. He served as a sheriff from 1991 until 2013, and said the variations reflected the independence of the judiciary.

He said: "Obviously there is now, as I understand it, a board set up for advising on sentence to the judiciary.

"But every judge is his own person or her own person, and they all have different ways of dealing with things, they all have different views and they are all independent.

"There has to be a certain degree of uniformity and that is undoubtedly enforced by the existence of an Appeal Court so anyone who does something which is particularly outrageous, as far as what is perceived to be the appropriate way of dealing with people, that can be corrected.

"But variety is the spice of life and I think that it would be wrong to try to dragoon the judiciary into dealing with things which they believe to be the correct way of dealing with things.

"They have local knowledge, they know the person, they have full information and they deal with it to the best of their ability and you have to trust that person to deal with it in that particular way."

SHERIFF COURT NUMBER OF WOMEN IN COURT NUMBER OF WOMEN BEING JAILED PERCENTAGE OF WOMEN GETTING JAIL SENTENCE NUMBER OF WOMEN JAILED FOR CRIMES OF DISHONESTY PERCENTAGE OF WOMEN JAILED FOR CRIMES OF DISHONESTY
ABERDEEN 638 101 16% 38 38%
AIRDRIE 340 18 5% 7 39%
ALLOA 110 5 5% 2 40%
ARBROATH 61 11 18% 5 45%
AYR 357 48 13% 12 25%
BANFF 21 2 5% 0 0
CAMPELTOWN 34 9 26% 0 0
CUPAR 16 1 6% 0 0
DINGWALL 40 2 5% 0 0
DUMBARTON 207 24 12% 10 42%
DUMFRIES 222 5 2% 2 40%
DUNDEE 480 90 19% 46 51%
DUNFERMLINE 259 40 15% 25 63%
DUNOON 48 3 6% 1 33%
DUNS 17 0 0 0 0
EDINBURGH 1,081 80 7% 37 46%
ELGIN 152 14 9% 6 43%
FALKIRK 333 41 12% 17 41%
FORFAR 155 22 14% 4 18%
FORT WILLIAM 19 4 21% 2 50%
GLASGOW 1,240 191 15% 47 25%
GLASGOW STIPENDIARY 535 49 9% 33 67%
GREENOCK 161 17 11% 7 41%
HADDINGTON 142 11 8% 2 18%
HAMILTON 712 75 11% 24 32%
INVERNESS 208 30 14% 12 40%
JEDBURGH 52 0 0 0 0
KILMARNOCK 605 112 19% 63 56%
KIRKCALDY 504 82 16% 51 62%
KIRKWALL 38 0 0 0 0
LANARK 92 9 10% 0 0
LERWICK 34 1 3% 0 0
LIVINGSTON 262 21 8% 10 48%
LOCHMADDY 6 0 0 0 0
OBAN 27 1 4% 0 0
PAISLEY 335 29 9% 11 38%
PEEBLES 18 2 11% 0 0
PERTH 243 37 15% 17 46%
PETERHEAD 137 8 6% 3 38%
PORTREE 6 0 0 0 0
ROTHESAY 1 0 0 0 0
SELKIRK 76 9 12% 2 22%
STIRLING 146 31 21% 15 48%
STONEHAVEN 8 0 0 0 0
STORNOWAY 50 5 10% 0 0
STRANRAER 96 9 9% 4 44%
TAIN 55 5 9% 1 20%
WICK 35 0 0 0 0

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