2. The Case For Change
2.1 A robust, evidence-based parole process is an essential part of an effective, progressive justice system, which balances protecting public safety alongside providing opportunities for rehabilitation.
2.2 It is right that we continually review procedures to ensure that the parole process is fit for purpose. We must also ensure that the Parole Board has the tools it needs to continue to balance the interests of victims and prisoners and protect public safety. It is equally important that individuals who have served their sentence, who are assessed as no longer representing a risk to public safety, and are ready to make a positive contribution to their communities, be given the opportunity to do so.
2.3 This consultation focuses on four main areas where we feel that improvements can, and should, be made.
Firstly, we feel that the voice of victims should be strengthened in the parole process so that they can more directly inform the Parole Board's considerations. We also believe that victims have a right to have the reasons for parole decisions explained to them, so they can understand why the decision was reached.
Secondly, we consider that improvements should be made to better support the Parole Board's decision-making and the transparency of those decisions. This includes improving how the Parole Board's decisions are communicated to victims and the wider public. We also think that there should be improvements in the way information is provided to prisoners so they are prepared for parole hearings and understand the conditions of their parole (if granted) and what that will mean on release.
Thirdly, we believe that improvements can be made to the supervision and recall of individuals. We want to consider the wider parole procedures by looking at licence conditions that could improve the safety and security of victims, reviewing compliance with licence conditions and by speeding up processes for recall where a person has breached their licence. We want to continue to ensure there are clear and robust mechanisms to return individuals to custody quickly should they breach their licence conditions.
Finally, we want to strengthen the independence, governance and accountability arrangements of the Parole Board. We are proposing that this could be supported by transferring the Parole Board to the Scottish Tribunals (as created by the Tribunals (Scotland) Act 2014). It has been suggested that the Parole Board would benefit from being part of a structure that has clear lines of accountability and that this would further augment and underline the independence of the Parole Board.
Email: Sandra Wallace