Victims placed at the heart of ensuring just, safe, and resilient communities.
A vision to transform Scotland’s justice sector through the COVID-19 recovery period and beyond has been published.
The new strategy will enshrine key priorities – making sure victims voices are heard, placing women and children at the heart of service delivery and reassessing the role that prisons and the use of imprisonment should play.
- Victims will take a more prominent role in cases, experience fewer delays and be supported in their recovery. A Victims’ Commissioner will be appointed and there will be increased use of pre-recorded evidence. Restorative Justice services will also be made available across Scotland by 2023.
- As well as an ambition to prevent Violence Against Women and Girls by tackling societal attitudes of misogyny and gender inequality, the vision prioritises systemic changes to improve the experiences of women and children building on the recommendations of Lady Dorrian’s report on the Management of Sexual Offences and ensuring access to Bairns’ Hoose for every child victim or witness who needs it.
- Prison will always be needed for the most serious offences to ensure safety, but with evidence demonstrating community interventions are more effective than short prison sentences at reducing reoffending, the strategy seeks to reduce the need for imprisonment through early intervention and providing greater access to community justice alternatives.
The vision will be underpinned by a requirement for the whole sector to ensure people are treated with empathy and kindness, for example by avoiding additional trauma by having to retell their stories. The plan also enshrines the need for collaborative work across public services to improve outcomes for individuals, focussing on prevention and early intervention.
Justice Secretary Keith Brown said:
“This bold new vision will deliver a just, safe, and resilient sector with the needs of victims very firmly at its centre.
“Transforming the way we view and deliver justice in Scotland will ensure we properly support the most vulnerable in our society, creating a fair system that fulfils and meets the human rights of all who use it.
“This strategic blueprint sets out key priority areas including improving the experience of women and girls in a justice system historically designed by men, taking forward reform to address inequalities. It also stresses the need for a fresh look at the use of custody and firmly puts victims and the needs of victims at its centre.
“Underpinning this, the vision makes clear the need for services to be person centred and trauma informed to avoid re-traumatising people as they journey through the system. And, fundamentally, it stresses the importance of holistic early interventions that leverage the whole of government and public services to reduce offending and the causes of offending at the outset.
“I am determined to drive change and deliver better outcomes through our public services and this new framework envisions the best way to do that. We can and will deliver justice services which meet the needs of modern Scottish society.”
The Vision for Justice was debated in Parliament on 8 February, 2022 and will enable a programme of work to transform the justice system.
To aid delivery of the vision, the justice sector is set to benefit from total investment of over £3.1 billion in 2022-23 to strengthen and reform vital services. Funding to match the vision’s needs and priorities will be mapped and allocated according to analysis of priorities in subsequent budgets.
To develop trauma informed services the Scottish Government has invested £250,000 over three years to fund a trauma specialist at NHS Education for Scotland.
A consultation on Bail and Release from Custody arrangements – which has just closed - will shape discussion about how custody should be used in a modern, progressive Scotland.
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