Amendments proposed to Management of Offenders Bill.
Police could be given new powers of entry and search to apprehend a person unlawfully at large from home detention curfew (HDC) or temporary release as part of proposals to strengthen electronic monitoring.
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf is putting forward amendments to the Management of Offenders Bill currently under consideration by the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee, including creating a statutory offence in cases where an individual does not return immediately to custody when their licence has been revoked.
If approved by MSPs, this would strengthen the sanctions available when an offender on licence is recalled to prison to serve the remainder of their sentence.
Other government amendments include a proposal to prevent prisoners serving long-term sentences from accessing HDC and the introduction of a much broader power for Ministers to revoke a HDC licence and recall an individual to prison.
Mr Yousaf said:
“The Management of Offenders Bill is a key part our wider work to reform the justice system and enhance public safety. Scotland’s reoffending rate is at a 19 year low and the continued expansion of electronic monitoring increases the options available to manage and monitor people serving all, or part, of their sentence in the community.
“Last year we accepted all the recommendations of HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland in their independent reports into the use of HDC.
“By creating a specific offence of remaining unlawfully at large and introducing changes to the rules around HDC we will further strengthen this important part of our justice system which prepares prisoners for release, reintegrates them into the community and reduces the risk of them reoffending.”
The Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee will consider the Management of Offenders (Scotland) Bill at Stage 2 (Day 1) on Tuesday 2 April.
The creation of an offence of remaining unlawfully at large was originally recommended by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary Scotland in its review of Police Scotland’s response to a breach of HDC.
HDC is not an entitlement and certain categories of prisoner are automatically barred from consideration for it. As part of any decision to grant HDC, the Scottish Prison Service must be satisfied that a proposed address is appropriate. A community assessment by social work or the National Probation Service will help determine the suitability of an HDC address either in Scotland or in England. If there were any doubts about the suitability of an address raised through that process then HDC would not be granted.
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