Victim safety at the heart of proposed changes to the use of custody.
Views are being sought on how to improve the way bail and prison custody operates in Scotland.
A consultation has been launched on how custody is used as part of the criminal justice system and how support can be given to better help people move on from their offending behaviour within communities while ensuring public protection and victim safety remain at the centre of the process.
Proposals aimed at reducing the undue disruption caused by short periods of imprisonment on remand, providing more opportunities for rehabilitation and better supporting reintegration for people leaving prison will be considered.
The responses to the consultation will inform legislation, with a Bill scheduled for introduction in the first year of this Parliament.
The proposals within the consultation recognise that, while imprisonment will always be needed for those who pose a risk of serious harm, many people in contact with the criminal justice system experience multiple and severe disadvantage. A greater emphasis on rehabilitation and reintegration will do more to support people to move away from offending behaviour.
Justice Secretary Keith Brown said:
“Our overarching aim for the justice system in Scotland is to improve public safety, support victims and reduce rates of victimisation. The proposals in this consultation support that aim. We cannot simply keep using imprisonment to address wider societal harms. Indeed, in some cases such use can exacerbate the harm.
“This consultation asks important questions about how custody should be used in Scotland now and in the future, with a focus on reducing crime and reoffending and keeping people safe.
“Keeping our communities protected is our number one priority and these principles underpin the reforms we are consulting on.
“I would encourage as many people as possible to give us their views as we continue to shape a modern and progressive Scottish justice system.”
Karyn McCluskey, Chief Executive of Community Justice Scotland, said:
“The total number of people on remand in Scotland is far too high, a situation exacerbated by the pandemic. There needs to be fewer people held on remand and for shorter periods.
“Periods of custody, especially on remand, can have devastating emotional, psychological, and financial impacts. People are separated from their communities, children, removed from support networks and can be driven into debt and homelessness.
“'Remand is an essential tool but we should think carefully about how it is used. We need to look at different ways to keep people in the community and to support them to not reoffend. This includes ensuring people have access to the right support before and after they leave prison.
“I urge you to respond to the Scottish Government’s new Bail and Release Consultation which highlights important issues and draw on the best evidence of what works to prevent offending, repair lives and improve communities.”
Consultation on bail and release