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Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 - Consultation Analysis Report

Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 - Consultation Analysis Report

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

ISBN: 9781785448812

This is an independent analysis report of the findings from a public consultation undertaken by the Scottish Government on proposed reforms to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. The consultation ran from 20 May 2015 to 19 August 2015 (extended from 12 August), and 50 responses were received.

Executive Summary

The consultation paper set out specific proposals to allow more people with previous criminal activity to be able to move away from their past offending behaviour and to reduce the length of time most people will have to disclose their previous criminal activity.

There was clear support, (89%), from respondents for extending the scope of the 1974 Act. Most respondents, (62%), accepted that the sentence type was a reasonable, albeit imperfect, indicator of seriousness of offence and, therefore, a suitable way of determining rehabilitation periods. Most respondents,(80%), agreed with the proposals relating to alternatives to prosecution. The majority of respondents,(59%), agreed with the proposals for revised rehabilitation periods for non-custodial sentences. Respondents were split in their support for the proposals relating to custodial sentences. 48 per cent agreed, 33 per cent agreed with some but not others, while the remaining 18 per cent disagreed with the proposals.

Regardless of how the respondents answered the questions, the comments received indicated that most were sympathetic to reform in this area. Respondents who indicated agreement welcomed the reforms as a positive step, but nevertheless often also argued for more substantive reform. Respondents who disagreed with the proposals often did so because they too wished to see more substantive reforms instead, (e.g. ranging from extending the scope of the legislation beyond what was proposed, further reducing specific rehabilitation periods by more than proposed to replacing the 1974 Act altogether).

Although the analysis reveals there is support for the general thrust of the reforms proposed, some issues were raised by certain stakeholders around some of the proposals for reforming the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act.