disclosure

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

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

Management of Offenders (Scotland) Bill

We broadly welcome that the Management of Offenders (Scotland) Bill passed Stage 3 on 25 June 2019. The wide-ranging Bill sought to extend the use of electronic monitoring; reduce the length of time people with convictions need to disclose such convictions to prospective employers; and make constitutional amendments to the status of the Parole Board for Scotland.

We submitted written and oral evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee, highlighting that whilst Electronic Monitoring (EM) could mitigate against the disruptive effects of imprisonment on housing, employment, and community ties, it would only play a limited role in reducing Scotland’s high imprisonment rate. We cautioned against criminal just net-widening and up-tariffing, pointing out that in the majority of cases, EM did not displace a custodial sentence. Whilst welcoming the expansion of EM for those on temporary release, we wished to see this as an opportunity for gradual reintegration, rather than as a supplementary form of additional control and surveillance.

We advocated for the use of Home Detention Curfew (HDC) not to be used in isolation, but to aid reintegration when accompanied by an appropriate support package; and argued for sensible and not overly-punitive exclusion zones where and when required. We were also keen to see EM used in place of remand, although this was not covered by the Bill.

Similarly, we welcomed changes to the current disclosure process and language – including the increase in the upper threshold for a conviction that cannot be spent from 30 months to 48 months - stressing that the changes did not go far enough in reducing the punitive impact of disclosure, and citing evidence which showed that after a period of 7 – 10 years, a person who has not reoffended will have the same offending potential as someone who has never offended.

Throughout the passage of the Bill we questioned the increasingly risk-averse approach to the granting of HDC and the dramatic fall in its use following the independent reviews undertaken by HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary for Scotland.

Howard League Scotland Written Evidence

Howard League Scotland Oral Evidence

Justice Committee Report

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