Penal Policy

Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service Corporate Plan (2023-26) & Business Plan (2023-24)

On 9 May 2023 the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) published its three-year Corporate Plan for 2023-26 and annual Business Plan for 2023-24. They reiterate previously published modelling which predicts that outstanding summary trials should return to pre-pandemic levels by March 2024; that outstanding High Court trials will recover to a new baseline level by March 2025 and Sheriff solemn by March 2026. However it notes that “[t]his may turn out to be optimistic, depending on the volume of indictments”.

Joint Review of Diversion From Prosecution

On 21 February 2023 a ‘Joint Review of Diversion from Prosecution’ was published by the Care Inspectorate; HM Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland; HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland; and HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland, which made 34 recommendations.

Scottish Parliament Pre-Budget Scrutiny

During November 2022, the Scottish Parliament Criminal Justice Committee took evidence on prison budgets as part of its Pre-Budget Scrutiny work. The proposal was that SPS should receive a flat cash budget for the next 4 years. The response to this was (unsurprisingly) negative. As just one example, Teresa Medhurst, SPS Chief Executive, stated that “there is no or at most, very limited, opportunity to the scaling back of our operations without significant risk to health and  welfare support, reputational damage, the loss of services and the risk to operational stability across the estate.” A corresponding scrutiny report was published by the Criminal Justice Committee on 9 December 2022.

Recorded Crime in Scotland 2020-2021

On 28/09/21 the Recorded Crime in Scotland, 2020-2021 figures were published which included the following key points: between 2019-20 and 2020-21, crimes recorded by the police in    Scotland remained almost unchanged; non-sexual crimes of violence decreased by 4%; sexual crimes decreased by 2%; crimes of dishonesty decreased by 19; fire-raising, vandalism etc. decreased by 10%; and other crimes increased by 10%. Most of these crimes relate to drug possession, crimes against public justice or handling offensive weapons.

Membership of the new Scottish Parliament Criminal Justice Committee Announced

On 17 June 2021, membership of the new Scottish Parliament Criminal Justice Committee was announced as follows:

  • Audrey Nicoll (Convenor) (SNP)
  • Russell Findlay (Vice-Convenor) (Conservative)
  • Rona Mackay (SNP)
  • Collette Stevenson (SNP)
  • Fulton MacGregor (SNP)
  • Pauline McNeill (Labour)
  • Katy Clarke (Labour)
  • Jamie Greene (Conservative)





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