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Prisons (Alcoholism)

Volume 130: debated on Thursday 31 March 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland to what factors he attributes the fall in the number of male inmates in Scottish prisons treated for alcoholism between 1985 and 1986.

[holding answer 8 February 1988]: There has been a continuous fall since 1982 in the number of male inmates in Scottish prisons treated for alcoholism. Inmates who are diagnosed by prison medical officers as suffering from alcoholism fall into two groups: those convicted of crimes related to drunkenness and those convicted of other crimes who may, coincidentally, have drink problems. This continuous fall in numbers treated for alcoholism is attributable in some degree to changes in police practice and court sentencing patterns over recent years and in the Aberdeen area, particularly to the establishment, with substantial Government financial support, of Albyn house as a designated place. This has been a major factor in the reduction of prosecutions for drunkenness in the Aberdeen area. Thus, in the five-year period between 1981 and 1986, there was a 67 per cent reduction in the number of persons in Scotland proceeded against for drunkenness and a 54 per cent. reduction in the number of persons received into prison either directly or by default following convictions for drunkenness. Between 1985 and 1986 in Scotland there was a particularly marked fall of 57 per cent. in the number of fine defaulters convicted arid fined for drunkenness.