Howard League Scotland response to Scottish Government's 2017/18 Programme for Government

Howard League Scotland response to Scottish Government's 2017/18 Programme for Government

We welcome the Scottish Government’s proposal to extend the presumption against short periods of imprisonment to sentences of 12 months or less.

Hand in hand with this proposal, there must now be a significant shift of resources from custody to community-based responses to offending. Sentencers, victims and the wider public need to have confidence that there are credible, properly resourced community-based disposals for those who might otherwise receive a short custodial sentence.

We recognise that electronic monitoring has the potential to add an element of control into community supervision that other measures do not have, and that this may help to reduce the use of imprisonment and the disruptive effects of a custodial sentence, such as loss of housing, employment and the erosion of family relationships. We support the use of electronic monitoring provided that it is integrated with other forms of support and that there is a clear penal rationale for its use.

We also welcome the Government’s intention to advance legislation to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 8 to 12 years old.

Reform of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 is also welcome and long overdue. Enabling those with convictions to become rehabilitated and reintegrated into society is in everyone’s interests: it improves public safety and reduces reoffending. We look forward to seeing the detail of the bill when it is presented to Parliament.

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