Building a New Scotland: Justice in an independent Scotland

This paper sets out the Scottish Government's vision for justice in an independent Scotland.

Foreword by the Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Home Affairs

We have a Vision for Justice of a just, safe, and resilient Scotland. I am proud of the work we have done over many years to strengthen and modernise the justice system, making improvements to ensure we have a system in which individuals and communities have trust. Our approach is based on the four principles set out in our Vision for Justice, an approach: founded in equality and human rights; that puts people at the centre of what we do; informed by recognised, credible, and robust evidence; and taken forward through collaboration and partnership.

In this paper, part of the ‘Building a New Scotland’ series, the Scottish Government outlines what independence would mean for our justice system. It would allow us to build on the current

policies and institutions that deliver effective justice in Scotland. It would allow us to play our role internationally by working with partners from across nations to develop the capability to combat threats from terrorism, cyber attacks, and serious organised crime. And, it would allow us to extend our public health approach into currently reserved areas like drug policy reform.

With independence our progressive approach would extend into areas where we do not currently have full responsibility. In these areas we are often restricted in our ability to align policy, legislation, and delivery to fully address the specific needs and circumstances in Scotland, including in areas such as serious organised crime, firearms, human trafficking, drug law reform, and gambling.

Independence would also enable Scotland to play a fuller role on the international stage. As set out in other papers in the series, this Scottish Government’s vision is for an independent Scotland to apply to join the EU as soon as possible after independence. This would enable an independent Scotland, through cooperation with partners within the EU and around the world, to advance our shared objectives and play our full part in addressing global challenges and increasingly sophisticated criminal networks.

Whilst much of the justice system in Scotland is devolved and has been for centuries, I hope the proposals in this paper will help stimulate debate over the kind of approach to justice we want to see in Scotland. I look forward to engaging with as many people as possible as we discuss Scotland’s future.

Angela Constance MSP

Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Home Affairs



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