Recorded Crime in Scotland 2022-2023

On 20 June 2023 the Scottish Government’s Recorded Crime in Scotland 2022-2023 figures were published. Since last year, crimes recorded by the police in Scotland increased by 1%, with the recording of crime remaining at one of the lowest levels seen since 1974. Non-sexual crimes of violence decreased by 1%; crimes of dishonesty increased by 11%; and sexual crimes decreased by 3%. However, recorded sexual crime has increased by 70% over the past 10 years.

Prison Mobile Phone Phase Out

On 29 May 2023 it was confirmed that prison-issued mobile phones introduced during the pandemic will be replaced on a phased basis over the coming months, with a new in-cell service being launched “by the summer”. Prisoners will be given 200 free minutes per month, which is down from the 300 minutes per month previously available. Additional calls are to be charged at 5p per minute. 

Children (Care and Justice) (Scotland) Bill

On 12 May 2023 the Stage 1 report on the Children (Care and Justice) Scotland Bill was published. There was broad agreement from the majority of stakeholders that the age at which a young person can be referred to the Children’s Hearing System (CHS) should be raised to18 and that no child (defined as someone under the age of 18) should ever be held in a prison/YOI. There was much discussion about the financial implications of this and the need to address corresponding resource concerns.

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”.

Prisoner Voting

On 4 May 2023 the Scottish Government published a report, ‘Prisoner Voting in Scottish Devolved Elections’. It reached the paradoxical conclusion that whilst it considers that “there is not at present sufficient data available to assess the impact of any potential change to the sentence threshold” it also “does not plan to revisit the 12-month threshold for prisoner voting”. We made unsuccessful attempts to engage with the Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee which was covering this.