Reforming parole

Move to improve transparency and understanding for victims.

Regulations to improve Scotland’s parole system, providing greater transparency for victims, relatives and the public, have been introduced to Parliament.

The proposed changes include:

  • creating a specific procedure for victims, who are registered with the Victim Notification Scheme, to observe parole hearings
  • establishing new arrangements for the Parole Board to publish redacted and anonymised summaries of their decisions to release prisoners, explaining the reasons for doing so. A summary will also be provided to the victim or family members involved should they wish to receive it.
  • making clear that the Parole Board for Scotland  may take the safety and security of victims and family members of victims into account when deciding whether or not to grant parole

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said:

“Parole is an important part of most modern criminal justice system, in Scotland providing a clear evidence-based framework for determining whether and when someone who has been serving a long-term prison sentence should be returned to the community.

“We made a commitment to simplify and modernise the provisions around parole and these regulations are a step in this direction. The Transforming Parole Implementation Group are building on the public consultation and we will be undertaking a full re-write of the rules later this year.

"I have listened to the experiences of victims and their families, and this has only reinforced my conviction that victims’ needs must be at the centre of the criminal justice system. Importantly, that includes ensuring they have better information, increased involvement and greater support ahead of prison release decisions. I hope these changes will help victims and families bereaved by crime.

“Parole Board for Scotland members do a difficult and complex job which requires careful judgement and expertise in assessing risk. By ensuring openness and transparency, I believe we can strengthen public confidence in an already fair and robust system which recognises the need to provide opportunities for rehabilitation and reintegration.”

Colin Spivey, Parole Board for Scotland Chief Executive, said: “This is an important step towards more openness. There is more to be done and we look forward to working with the Government and victims organisations to ensure that there is the necessary support in place and to further develop and improve the experience of victims in the parole process.”


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