- Part of:
- Law and order
Justice Secretary responds to Inspectorates' recommendations.
Immediate action is underway to improve the management of prisoners serving the end of their custodial sentence at home, Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf has said.
It follows the publication of two inspectorate reports into the Home Detention Curfew (HDC) scheme, which allows for prisoners to be released early from custody, providing they comply with their licence conditions including a curfew monitored by an electronic tag.
The reviews were directed by the then Justice Secretary in June following the conviction of James Wright for the murder of Craig McClelland and carried out by HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland.
In a statement to the Scottish Parliament, Mr Yousaf confirmed he will accept all of the reports' recommendations, including considering making it a specific offence to remain "unlawfully at large".
The Scottish Prison Service and Police Scotland have also confirmed they will accept all of the recommendations.
Thanking the Chief Inspectors for their report, Mr Yousaf said:
"I would like to begin by expressing my sincere condolences to Craig McClelland's family, who I met with this morning to discuss these reports and how the Government will respond.
"Home detention curfew is an important part of our justice system. It prepares prisoners for release, reintegrates them into the community and reduces the risk of them reoffending.
"At any one time there are around 300 people under these arrangements in our communities and the vast majority of those are completed successfully without any breaches.
"I believe that the actions that the Scottish Government, Scottish Prison Service and Police Scotland have all committed to today will provide confidence that there is the right balance between successful reintegration and protecting public safety.
"Indeed, much of what has been identified has already been addressed by the police and prison service over the summer and, as a consequence, the number of people considered unlawfully at large has been brought down to single figures.
"This is only the start of the process. I have made clear I expect real and demonstrable progress and have asked both Inspectorates to review progress in six months time."
The Justice Secretary also confirmed individuals whose offence involves violence or knife crime will not, in normal circumstances, receive HDC and options of placing this on a statutory basis will be considered.
The reports from HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland (HMIPS) and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) are available to view online.
The Justice Secretary's full statement to the Scottish Parliament is available to view here