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Chamber and committees

Question reference: S6W-24119

  • Asked by: Liam McArthur, MSP for Orkney Islands, Scottish Liberal Democrats
  • Date lodged: 20 December 2023
  • Current status: Answered by Angela Constance on 16 January 2024


To ask the Scottish Government how many instances there have been where a person under the age of 18 was held on remand in a prison facility for adults in (a) 2020-21, (b) 2021-22, (c) 2022-23 and (d) 2023 to date.


Data covering the period 2020-23 is available via the published National Statistics on the Scottish Prison Population.

Over this period, under 18s were held on remand in the following establishments: HMP YOI Cornton Vale, HMP YOI Grampian, HMP YOI Polmont, HMP YOI Stirling, HMP Edinburgh and HMP Inverness.

Section 20 of the 1989 Act permits SPS to hold young offenders (YOs) in a prison whilst arrangements are made to transfer them to a young offenders institution (YOI). A direction made under section 20A(2) of the 1989 Act may also allow a prisoner under 18 years to be detained in a prison but only for a “temporary purpose?. There is no definition of “temporary purpose? in the 1989 Act but an example would be for a young person to attend court.

The following table provides the number of individuals spending any time in each establishment or group of establishments in the course of each year covered by the National Statistics.


HMP Edinburgh

HMP Inverness

HMP YOIs Cornton Vale, Grampian, Polmont or Stirling

a) 2020-21




b) 2021-22




c) 2022-23




Each individual held on remand in HMPs Edinburgh and Inverness was only held for a single instance, i.e. over the period 2020-21 to 2022-23 there were 9 instances where a person under the age of 18 was held on remand in a prison establishment that was not a designated YOI.

Data for the period d) April 2023 to December 2023 is only available via Scottish Government collections of daily management information. These data indicate that under 18s were only held in HMP YOIs Grampian, Polmont and Stirling in this period.