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Disclosure (Scotland) Bill Report

On 17 December, the Education and Skills Committee published its Stage 1 Report on the Disclosure (Scotland) Bill. The Stage 1 debate took place on 16 January 2020 and it was passed with broad support from all parties, although acknowledging that there was still a lot of work to do at Stage 2, given the importance and complexity of the area.

Most of this work will be around: a) amendment/s to ensure that no-one will have to self-disclose a childhood conviction that would not be disclosed by the state b) requirement for accompanying guiding principles or criteria c) clarification of how it fits with other legislation e.g. Management of Offenders Bill and Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility d) what constitutes other "relevant" information, and clarification of the difference between it and information which "ought" to be disclosed. 

Education and Skills Committee Stage 1 Report

HLS Written Evidence

HLS Oral Evidence

Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Act

On 29 November the Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Act came into effect, raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 8 to 12. Our view continues to be that this should be raised further. The Act contains a commitment to review the age limit and one of our Committee Members sits on the Advisory Group on Reviewing the Age of Criminal Responsibility.

Scottish Elections (Franchise and Representations) Bill Report

On 13 November, the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee published its report on evidence taken on the Scottish Elections (Franchise and Representations) Bill. It concluded that they “would like to see the … policy on prisoner voting driven by principle and evidence” and that “the Scottish Government has settled on an approach which fails to address the central question of what disenfranchisement seeks to achieve”. We will continue to campaign for the franchise to be extended to all prisoners.

Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee Report

HLS written evidence

HLS oral evidence

Independent Review of the Handling of Deaths in Custody

On 7 November the Cabinet Secretary announced the formation of an independent expert review of the handling of deaths in custody. It will be led by Wendy Sinclair-Gieben (HMIPS) and include Professor Nancy Loucks (Families Outside). The review is designed “to improve arrangements and communication with families of prisoners after their death, as well as looking at preventing suicides. It will also examine the operational policies, practice and training in place within SPS and NHS. Findings are due to be published in Summer 2020.

Evidence to Education and Skills Committee: Disclosure (Scotland) Bill

On 6 November 2019, one of our Committee Members, Dr. Beth Weaver, gave oral evidence on our behalf to the Education and Skills Committee on the Disclosure (Scotland) Bill.  Her evidence focused on why individualised and structured discretionary models of disclosure could not be applied to adult, as well as, childhood convictions. She argued that the onus should not be on the individual to apply to have convictions removed and that no fee should be incurred for this. The issue of other relevant information (ORI) was deemed to be key and should only be disclosed when proportionate, balancing public protection against individuals' rights. With this in mind, she urged a need for legal clarification on what information "is" or "ought" to be relevant, highlighting the need for universal guiding principles to accompany the Bill.

Oral Evidence to Education and Skills Committee

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