Penal Policy

Scottish Crime & Justice Survey 2019-20

On 16 March 2021, the Scottish Crime & Justice Survey 2019-20 was published which showed a 46% fall in crime since 2008-9. It highlighted continuing inequality where falls in crime and improved perceptions of safety have not been equally felt; and where 1 in every 100 adults was a victim of repeated incidents of violence, with their experiences accounting for almost two thirds of the total of violent crime in 2019-20.

Covid19 Court Restrictions Extended

On 12 February 2021, the Lord President announced that court restrictions across Scotland would be extended throughout March. He advised that criminal courts would continue to focus on the most serious trials, whilst the majority of summary trials in the Sheriff Court and Justice of the Peace Court would continue to be adjourned.

The Restorative Justice (Prescribed Persons) (Scotland) Order 2021

On 22 January 2021 The Restorative Justice (Prescribed Persons) (Scotland) Order 2021 was laid before the Scottish Parliament to give Restorative Justice guidance a statutory basis, so that prescribed people must have regard to it. It’s a piece of secondary legislation (SSI) connected to the implementation of the Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act and is something which we support. We look forward to details on how Restorative Justice will be be introduced across Scotland by 2023, as previously advised in the Restorative Justice Action Plan.

Effects of New Covid19 Variant

During January 2021 and in response to the increasing spread of the new variant of COVID-19 across Scotland, a number of measures were advised:

- the Lord President announced that criminal courts would focus on the most serious trials and the majority of summary trials in the Sheriff Court and Justice of the Peace Court would be adjourned. This was estimated to reduce the overall number of criminal trials taking place during lockdown by up to 75%

- Social Work Scotland announced that for the same reason, face to face unpaid work as part of CPOs would be suspended as part of the current lockdown

- HMIPS announced that they had taken the decision to suspend on-site monitoring and liaison visits to prisons and Court Custody Units - a decision that would be reviewed on a fortnightly basis.

Justice Committee Evidence Session - Covid19 Effects on Criminal Justice System

On 18 August 2020, the Justice Committee took evidence from the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service and Teresa Medhurst (Interim Chief Executive of SPS). It heard that the court backlog could take 8-10 years to clear; that cell doubling up is returning; that new prison rules will be extended again from the end of September, but won’t include those relating to provision of food, access to showers and clean clothing which are to revert to normal regime; that unpaid work variations are being considered; that unspecified alternatives to remand are being considered; and importantly, a commitment was made not to return to pre-COVID prison population levels with a further executive release to be considered if required.





Subscribe to Penal Policy