Scotland’s prisons are home to 23 gangland bosses, new figures have revealed.
Alongside the so-called “principals”, another 25 inmates have been described as key “members” of gangs.
In total, 589 prisoners – making up 8% of those in custody – have links to serious and organised crime, the Scottish Prison Service said.
Of these, 176 have been linked to 54 different active gangs, many of which operate across the UK and globally.
Christopher Hughes, who was locked up for a minimum of 25 years after being found guilty of the murder of Dutch crime writer Martin Kok, is one person serving time with links to an organised crime gang.
Prosecutors said for almost seven years between July 2013, and January 2020, Hughes was involved in the importation and supply of cocaine, firearms and ammunition, money laundering, and the setting up of a company to supply encrypted communication devices to gangs throughout the world.
Martyn Fitzsimmons is another with links to the criminal underworld who has been jailed.
The former soldier was brought to justice in 2018, when he was given a sentence of more than ten years, for his part in a gang involved in drugs and firearms trafficking.
Every prison in Scotland is home to inmates with links to serious and organised crime, and the SPS said the rise in gang members was one of the most significant changes to the population within the last decade.
Justice secretary Keith Brown said that disrupting the threat from organised crime was a priority.
“Analysis from SPS helps to shine a light on the extent of serious organised crime members in custody, and provides an insight to the scale and complexity of work they undertake to ensure the safety and wellbeing of people in custody,” he said.
“Public protection is paramount and there is a huge amount of work across the justice system to bring people to justice and to keep people safe in custody and the community.”
Fiona Cruickshanks, head of the SPS’s public protection unit, said the service worked closely with its partners “to tackle serious and organised crime, which we know devastates communities, and disproportionately affects the most vulnerable”.