Equality, opportunity, community: New leadership - A fresh start
This publication sets out the First Minister’s vision for Scotland and the outcomes he and his government aim to achieve by 2026.
Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Home Affairs
Angela Constance MSP
Keeping people safe is one of the fundamental responsibilities of government and this is the task to which I will devote myself above all others. We all deserve to live in a just, safe and resilient Scotland. By addressing the root causes of offending and continuing to take a public health approach to tackling violent crime, we will ensure we keep our communities safe.
Crime, and youth crime in particular, is at historic low levels. Additionally, the likelihood of being a victim of crime has decreased by 40% over the last 11 years. The successes to date have been a result of the strong and sustained partnerships across the justice sector. I am proud of the progress we have made but there is more to do.
Feeling safe and having confidence in the justice system are fundamental for individuals and communities to thrive and for the missions we have set out to succeed. I will work with the Police and other justice agencies and with my colleagues across government to ensure we are doing all we can to prevent crime and harm happening in the first place, and where harm does occur, everyone is supported to recover.
In particular, I will focus on supporting the work of our Police, Fire Service, and other justice services to ensure we deliver on our Vision for Justice, for a just, safe, resilient Scotland. This will include supporting the Police to match their capacity and capability with changing demands. It also means redesigning services and taking forward major reforms, with a particular focus on better serving victims and witnesses.
Aligning with our Equally Safe strategy, we will work to tackle all forms of violence against women and girls and bring the perpetrators to justice. For some offenders prison is the only suitable punishment – so we will continue to invest in modernising our prison estate and supporting our prison staff. However, where appropriate, I will also work to continue to shift the balance between the use of community disposals and prison, reflecting the evidence that community interventions are more effective at reducing reoffending. This will include a particular focus on the needs of women who offend.
As the Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Home Affairs, working with my Cabinet colleagues, I commit that by 2026 I will have:
- Reduced waiting times for justice by continuing to provide justice organisations with the resource to clear the court backlogs built up during COVID.
- Supported Police Scotland to have the capacity and capability to respond to changing demands, so confidence in the Police is high.
- Worked with justice partners to ensure that people are less likely to be a victim of crime, especially those from deprived communities or with protected characteristics, and that the level of crime continues to be at historically low levels.
- Ensured that victims' and survivors' voices are heard, that they have been treated with compassion and have increased confidence in the justice system.
- Reformed our justice system, including through legislation, which is subject to the agreement of parliament, to strengthen how the justice system recognises and responds to all forms of violence against women and girls and ensured the process of justice better meets the needs of the people of Scotland.
- Modernised the processes of justice through greater use of digital technologies.
- Kept a continuing focus on both public protection and rehabilitation, and kept rates of re-offending low.
- Continued work to address Scotland's high use of imprisonment, including reducing the proportion of the prison population, especially women, on remand from the post COVID high.
- Ensured that 16 and 17 year olds are no longer sent to Young Offender Institutions – subject to passage of the Children (Care and Justice) Bill.
- Reduced the gap between men's and women's feelings of safety, and worked to ensure everyone feels safe in their communities.
- Continued to support and strengthen access to justice, especially for disadvantaged groups and communities.
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