No room at the jail

George Munce from Auchterarder is a fraudster who claimed almost £10,000 of income support through claiming to be single.  On 25th September 2008 Sheriff Lindsay Foulis (previously in Scots Law News here) sentenced Munce to 240 hours community service but told his solicitor that Munce was “fortunate”.

As quoted on the BBC News website, Sheriff Foulis said of munce:

“He can consider himself fortunate, but in light of certain matters we keep trying to bring to the attention of the press with regard to certain numbers, I am prepared to deal with this by way of community service. Previously I would have had no hesitation in taking your client's liberty away from him. I should make it plain the maximum community service is imposed as a direct alternative to custody. We are told that prison populations are reaching crisis point and as a result – for a matter which I consider you well merit a custodial sentence – I am going to deal with it by way of the direct alternative.”

Sheriff Foulis’s comments followed evidence from the Auditor General of Scotland to the Scottish Parliament Audit committee on 24th September.  He told the committee that the safe limit for prisoner numbers was 8,126, but jails were housing about 8,137 inmates.