Justice - vision and priorities: report

This report highlights our key achievements in justice since the publication of Justice in Scotland: vision and priorities in 2017. It also outlines the unprecedented impact of COVID 19 on the justice system.

3. Key achievements under the Justice Vision and Priorities

3.1 An overview of progress on the actions set out in 2017-2018 Justice Vision and Priorities Delivery Plan was published on October 2018 together with new approaches and additional actions for 2018-2019. It showed considerable progress had been made under the seven Justice Vision priorities. This report builds on that progress report and describes some of the key achievements under each priority for the whole period 2017-2020.

Priority 1 - We will enable our communities to be safe and supportive, where individuals exercise their rights and responsibilities.

  • We have embedded a new approach in seeking to eradicate domestic abuse through criminal law reforms that better reflect how victims' experience domestic abuse and a renewed and enhanced focus on challenging perpetrator behaviour through expansion of behaviour change programmes for domestic abusers.
  • We established the Victims Taskforce which has brought together leaders across the justice system, third sector support organisations, local authorities and the legal profession to focus on a victim-centred approach, trauma informed practice and key aspects of our response to gender-based violence.
  • We have continued to reinvest money from proceeds of crime into communities through the Cashback for Communities Programme which runs across all 32 local authorities. Phase 4 was successfully completed in March 2020 with a formal evaluation published in December. The current Phase 5 runs from April 2020 to March 2023 with committed funds of up to £19 million to support a mix of national and local projects, delivered by third sector and community organisations.
  • There has been support for and investment in community based projects to tackle sectarianism working with young people and adults in school, college, university, workplace, community and online settings. We have also continued with ongoing work on marches, parades and static demonstrations with Police Scotland, local authorities and event organisers to balance maintaining public safety, limiting disruption to the life of the community and the protecting freedom of speech.
  • There has been ongoing investment in the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit and violence reduction programmes such as Medics Against Violence (including the hospital-based Navigators programme), Mentors in Violence Prevention Scotland and No Knives Better Lives.
  • The Grenfell Inquiry phase 1 recommendations report has now been published and sets out the position in Scotland.
  • The Scottish Biometrics Commissioner Bill was passed by the Parliament in mid-March 2020 and became an Act in April 2020. The Act establishes the office of Scottish Biometrics Commissioner and provides for its functions in relation to the acquisition, retention, use and destruction of biometric data for criminal justice and police purposes.
  • There has been ongoing implementation of the National Missing Persons Framework for Scotland through the Working Group for Missing People and National Coordinator working in and with local areas to improve multi-agency working and response for those who go missing and support for people who return.
  • Police Scotland have now embedded their 'Ethics Advisory Panels Structure' which provide an opportunity for officers and staff to raise and discuss issues they feel raise an ethical dilemma and allow the views of panel members to inform the final decision. Triage Portal was launched at the end of last year inviting anyone to submit an Ethical Dilemma to the team, which will be assessed and an agreement will be reached as to what level they best sit at. Over the course of the last year there have been a number of training events for Panel members and there are currently 90 trained regional panel members, 30 national members and 24 trained chairs. Since the inception of the Independent Panel, the team have approached approximately 100 different organisations from the Public, Private and 3rd Sector in Scotland.
  • Legislation (the Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2020 was taken forward to introduce mixed sex civil partnership. That work has continued and the first mixed sex civil partnerships are expected in June 2021.
  • The Children (Scotland) Act 2020, to improve how family cases are dealt with by the courts was also progressed and is now in the implementation phase.
  • Work across Safer Communities and Justice Directorates ensured that each area was sighted on the consequences of EU Exit on the Justice system and the safety of our communities.
  • Following the terror attacks in 2017, 2019 and 2020, and prior to COVID 19, discussions were held with partners regarding the delivery of safety and security in Publicly Accessible Locations and more widely in Scotland. Advice was provided to Scottish Government business units delivering major events etc. regarding safety and security.
  • The Scottish Government committed within the 2018-19 Programme for Government to review the Strategic Police Priorities (SPPs), following a three year period in which the policing system has continued to develop, and the leadership and governance at the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) and Police Scotland has been strengthened. The updated SPPs were published in December 2019, following a public consultation. At the heart of the SPPs is a commitment to work collaboratively to keep communities, safe and deliver preventative services, sitting alongside the prioritisation of equality and human rights to support positive criminal justice outcomes and continuing to inspire public trust by being ethical, open and transparent, thus build a positive reputation at a local, national and international level. We expect that these priorities will remain in place for a period of 6 years, with a plan to consult the SPA, Police Scotland and local authorities, halfway through this period to help us consider whether they remain relevant and appropriate.
  • Despite constraints on Scotland's public services through a decade of UK austerity, policing services have been maintained and improved. In 2020-21 the policing budget is over £1.2 billion, increasing to £1.3 billion in 2021-22. This will eliminate Police Scotland's structural deficit and deliver a sustainable budget position, while protecting the workforce. We committed to protect the police resource budget in every year of the current Parliament – a boost of £100 million by 2021. We have exceeded this commitment. This investment supports the delivery of the Joint Policing Strategy, to meet changing demands, and to strengthen support to communities. Overall we have increased police funding year on year since 2016-17 and we have invested over £9 billion in policing since the creation of Police Scotland in 2013.
  • Governance of the SPA has been stabilised and strong and effective leadership is in place in Police Scotland. The SPA provide oversight and hold the Chief Constable of Police Scotland to account, this role is central to ensuring that all operational policing matters are shielded from undue political intrusion.
  • In November 2019, the Cabinet Secretary for Justice announced that a Public Inquiry into the death of Sheku Bayoh was to be set up. On 26 November 2020 the Cabinet Secretary for Justice announced the setting up date for the Public Inquiry into the death of Sheku Bayoh and the appointment of two assessors – Raju Bhatt and Michael Fuller QPM to support Lord Bracadale. On 30 November 2020 the Public Inquiry was officially passed over to Lord Bracadale to begin work.

Priority 2 - We will enable our people, economy and infrastructure to respond to major risk, recover from emergencies and adapt to emerging threats

  • The spending capacity of the Fire Service was increased by £15.5 million in 2018-19, a further £5.5 million in 2019-20 and another £6.1 million increase in 2020-21.
  • The Counter Terrorism Unit continues to engage with all the Emergency Services and consequence management partners in delivering appropriate and proportionate preparedness to respond to the threats and risks posed by a terrorist incident. Prior to COVID 19, the Unit has developed and overseen delivery strategies with the Emergency Services against each of the significant threats in the National Security Risk Assessment and continues to assess capacity against these and refresh the documents against emerging and evolving threats.
  • We have continued to deliver the ambitions of the Cyber Resilience Strategy, particularly on the actions relating to raising cyber resilience of the public, private and third sectors. National partners have been key to the successful implementation of this strategy
  • In September 2020 the SPA approved Police Scotland's 'Cyber Strategy 2020' which sets out the establishment of a National Centre of Excellence and increased recruitment of specially trained officers and staff to tackle the rise in cybercrime. The centre of excellence will bring together the expertise of around 100 officers and staff already working in the cyber field. It will be boosted with an extra 50 officers and staff in the short-term, but this number will rise over time.
  • The Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme (ESMCP) is a Home Office led programme to deliver the next generation of mission critical communications to be known as the Emergency Services Network (ESN). The programme will provide for the exchange of data, in addition to voice. ESN will replace the current Airwave radio system that currently provides critical voice services and is therefore, considered as part of the critical national infrastructure. On the 4th February 2021, we published the Infrastructure Investment Plan which outlined Scotland's commitment to the programme in working with Home Office to support the delivery of the new critical national infrastructure for an Emergency services network (ESN). The ESN will also contribute towards the government's wider policy of enhancing mobile coverage through the Shared Rural Network.

Priority 3 - We will modernise civil and criminal law and the justice system to meet the needs of people in Scotland in the 21st century.

  • The Digital Evidence Sharing Capability (DESC) Programme is a collaborative cross-Justice initiative to provide a common platform for the collection, management and sharing of digital evidence across the criminal justice sector. The wider CJ Reform Programme aims to deliver, not only DESC, but Virtual Court Hearings, Digital Productions, Virtual Summary Courts, Remote Police and Witness Evidence. If successful, all of these could lead to significant improvements, albeit at a significant initial undertaking in terms of finance and resources.
  • In order to better understand the decision making process that juries go through, we undertook the largest and most realistic mock jury research of its kind ever undertaken in the UK published in October 2019. From November 2019 through to March 2020, a broad range of stakeholder events took place to seek views on all of the research findings and any implications they may have for criminal justice reforms.
  • The implementation of the Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy has continued and the second annual progress report was published in June 2019. (Also priority 6.) In summer 2019, a public consultation was launched on section 38 of the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015 relating to the duty to notify. The analysis report for the public consultation was published on 30 April 2020.
  • The Defamation and Malicious Publication (Scotland) Bill was introduced to the Scottish Parliament in December 2019 and passed Stage 3 in March 2021. The Bill will simplify and modernise defamation law, while ensuring that a better balance is struck between freedom of expression and protecting someone's reputation
  • We have continued to reform the tribunals system to benefit efficiency and access to justice.
  • Following a period of public consultation, we intend to work closely with stakeholders to develop proposals for a new statutory framework for a modern, forward-looking and user-centred Legal Aid system for Scotland.
  • The Legal Aid Payment Advisory Panel was established to advise on an evidence-based approach for a review of fee levels for legal aid services - an important step towards modernising the system of feeing to ensure that it is fair to both the taxpayer and the provider, and is sustainable for the future. The final meeting of the Panel has now been scheduled for 19 March 2021.
  • In October 2020 the Cabinet Secretary for Justice confirmed that the Scottish Government would accept the single recommendation made by independent review of the miners' strike - to pardon certain convictions linked to the strike.
  • The final report from Dame Elish Angiolini's Independent Review of Complaints Handling, Investigations and Misconduct Issues in Relation to Policing was published on 11 November 2020 and made 81 recommendations. This Review was considering the effectiveness of law and practice in the entire complaints and investigations landscape, in order to make recommendations for improvements to ensure the system is fair, transparent, accountable and proportionate, in order to strengthen public confidence in policing in Scotland. The review made 81 recommendations.
  • The Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014 introduced various measures to improve the support and information available to victims and witnesses of crime. This included provisions to introduce a new financial penalty of a restitution order to be available to the courts for those convicted of assault on police or police staff (under section 90(1) of the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012.) The monies received to be used for support services for victims of that offence. Implementation involved UK Section 104 order and SSIs, in addition to working with stakeholders on the detail of the introduction of 'restitution orders and the operation and use of the Restitution Fund.

Priority 4 - We will work with others to improve health and wellbeing in justice settings, focussing on mental health and substance misuse

  • Police Scotland (PS), Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) and the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) continued to work closely under the auspices of the Reform Collaboration Group (RCG) to share key data, identify vulnerability and to focus on preventative work and joint response models.
  • We are making good progress towards delivery of our commitment to fund 800 additional mental health workers across Scotland, including a number in justice settings. As at 1 July 2020, an additional 485.6 whole time equivalent (WTE) mental health roles have been filled which equates to 61% of the overall target. These posts work alongside the police to provide support to individuals coming into custody and complement services and process that are already in place to respond to the needs of individuals in police custody. As of 1 July 2020 11.45 WTE of these posts were within police station custody suites. We are in the process of finalising the latest recruitment data until 1 January 2021 and plan to publish this in March 2021.
  • Police Scotland aim to provide the highest standards of care to those in custody, operating under the terms of the Standard Operating Procedure for the Care and Welfare of Persons in Police Custody; the Standing Operating Procedure for the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2016 (Arrest Process); and the Police Service of Scotland Solicitor Access Guidance. In addition Police Scotland have also developed a Harm Reduction Strategy for Police Custody which prioritises a collaborative Public Health approach to tackle the underlying causes of offending and maximise the safety & wellbeing of people in custody.
  • Police Scotland also adhere to the guidelines in the Mental Health and Place of Safety Standard Operating Procedure, which provides procedures for officers and staff coming into contact with people experiencing mental health crisis and sets out that officers and staff will always act with fairness, integrity and respect, focussing on the needs of the individual whilst keeping them and others safe. A detailed vulnerability and risk assessment takes place at the point of processing into a custody facility and, where appropriate, any referrals will be made to the NHS or to other appropriate support services, depending on individual needs and circumstances. Where further support is required for complex conditions such as mental health, mental health teams (including Psychiatry) can visit the Police Station Custody Suite or, if appropriate, the person can be transferred to a mental health setting or emergency department.
  • Police Scotland are piloting the carriage and use of Naloxone intra-nasal spray by officers. This reverses the suppression of the respiratory system in cases of opioid drug overdose (critically allowing time for ambulance staff to arrive on scene and take over emergency care).
  • As part of commitment to enhance health and wellbeing in the justice system, all Scottish prisons went smoke-free from December 2018. The Scottish Prison Service (SPS), NHS Scotland, SG and local health boards worked together to develop a specification for tailored support to be in place to help people in custody manage in a smoke free environment. This has been a significant achievement for public health.
  • We have been progressing the recommendations of HM Chief Inspector of Prisons Expert Review of Mental Health for Young People in HMP Polmont which includes a range of action needed across mental health, youth justice, NHS and SPS to improve mental health service delivery for young people at Polmont.
  • We have worked with partners to establish collaborative leadership arrangements across Health and Justice to oversee joint work on key shared priorities. Through the Health & Social Care in Prisons Programme, we have been working to take forward a range of projects to address the structural barriers to local improvement in the delivery of Health and Social Care services for people in prison, and those returning from prison to their communities.
  • The Scottish Government has made a commitment to develop a trauma-informed workforce across Scotland, supported by the National Trauma Training Programme, led by NHS Education for Scotland. Trauma training has also been rolled out across Scotland.

Priority 5 - We will work to quickly identify offenders and ensure responses are proportionate, just, effective and support rehabilitation.

  • The Management of Offenders (Scotland) Act 2019 (MOO) achieved Royal Assent in July 2019. In light of the impact of COVID 19 on the justice system, it was decided to expedite the expansion of electronic monitoring. MOO sets out details of proposed new policy uses of electronic monitoring, and provided a framework for broader expansion including through new technological uses. The current proposals are to commence Part 1 of MOO in order to enable the new policy uses (using the current technology not making the change to the technological uses at this time). The commencement of Part 1 of the Act will allow new policy uses, such as electronically monitored bail, to be added to the list of disposals that can be monitored.
  • Two sets of Regulations in relation to electronically monitored bail have been taken forward in recent months in preparation for the measure to be introduced. The Scottish Government have been working intensively with partners including the Police, social work, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) and Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service (SCTS) to prepare for these powers to be given effect. This is a significant change in the system and it is important it is done carefully and that all partners can provide assurances that they have the necessary arrangements in place, in order that electronically monitored bail has the desired policy impact. In the meantime courts can and do continue to bail people where they deem it appropriate to do so.
  • We issued revised guidance to support the delivery of bail supervision along with the establishment of an incentive-based funding scheme to further encourage the provision of such services across Scotland. Bail supervision is intended to provide a robust and credible alternative to remand where individuals are assessed as needing a level of supervision and support to meet their bail conditions, and can help minimise the numbers of individuals held on remand in custody pending trial or for reports after conviction.
  • Work is being undertaken to ensure that legislation on Terrorist Offenders appropriately reflects the Scottish position and that effective support and rehabilitation is provided to terrorist offenders in prison and supervision on release.
  • In September 2020, we launched the first ever national consultation on prostitution. Respondents were invited to give views on how we challenge men's demand for prostitution and also ensure support for people when they need it, including to exit prostitution. A streamlined version of the consultation was also produced to support engagement.
  • The Caledonian System, a court mandated perpetrator programme for men, women and children, is now available as a court disposal in 19 local authorities. Bespoke training has been delivered to workers, sheriffs and judges, and Caledonian has contributed to the design of the Domestic Abuse Matters training being delivered to Police Scotland personnel. The Caledonian are also working with the Safe and Together Institute to explore options to deliver training to Caledonian staff on Safe & Together.
  • Initial work is underway to develop demonstration projects for non-mandated perpetrator programmes which will provide insight into what requires to be in place to deliver non-court mandated work safely in particular women and children's services.
  • A pilot is underway in HMP Castle Huntly enabling men serving long sentences for domestic abuse offences to complete the first stage of the Caledonian men's programme prior to their release with ongoing post release programme work and women and children's services provided by community based Justice social work teams.
  • In 2019, the Scottish Government awarded funding to the Safe & Together Institute and the Improvement Service to provide support and tools to raise awareness of the Safe & Together model across Scotland, and support a shift towards embedding domestic abuse-informed practice across different policy areas. 'A Companion Document: The Safe & Together Model and Domestic Abuse Perpetrator Programmes' was developed in partnership with Community Justice Scotland and in consultation with practitioners trained in both Safe & Together and working with perpetrators (also priority 6).
  • The Restorative Justice Action Plan was published on 28 June 2019 (also priority 6).
  • Work is ongoing with partners to address the complex and prevalent issues around the legal and lawful sharing of data. CJS have worked with Social Work Scotland, Police Scotland, SCTS,etc. to develop solutions that can be applied nationally to ensure the safe and legitimate free-flow of information which supports the functioning of the justice system.

Priority 6 - We will improve the experience of victims and witnesses, minimising court attendance and supporting them to give best evidence

  • The Forensic Medical Services (Victims of Sexual Offences) (Scotland) Act which came in to force in January 2021, enshrines in law a holistic healthcare and recovery focused model and will provide a legal framework for consistent access to self‑referral services across Scotland.
  • The Vulnerable Witnesses (Criminal Evidence) (Scotland) Act 2019 creates a new rule for child witnesses under 18 to ensure that, where they are due to give evidence in the most serious cases, they will be allowed to have it pre-recorded in advance of the trial. This will usually be by the special measure 'evidence by commissioner'. Regulations allowing any child witness under the age of 18 giving evidence in the most serious cases in the High Court to have their evidence pre-recorded came into force in January 2020. This will spare children the trauma of giving evidence during a trial.
  • We have worked with key justice partners to support a pilot in three areas in Scotland to visually record rape complainers' initial statement to the police and consider the potential for these to be used in appropriate cases as evidence in chief in any subsequent trial. Rape Crisis Scotland is providing valuable advocacy support for victims with additional funding from the Scottish Government.
  • Victims Taskforce (see priority 1) actions to date include developing options for a Victim Centred Approach, work to identify best practice and gaps in trauma informed practice and engagement on privacy rights, safeguarding and juror attitudes in sex and domestic abuse cases.
  • Victim Surcharge Regulations passed in November 2019 and the Victim Surcharge Fund Guidance was published May 2020. The Victim Surcharge Fund opened to applications from Victim Support Organisations on 14 January 2021 and the aim is that first payments from Fund will be made by the end of March 2021.
  • A commitment was made in 2018 to have Restorative Justice (RJ) services available across Scotland by 2023. The Restorative Justice Action Plan published in June 2019 setting out how this will be achieved. Since then, The RJ Stakeholder Group was established January 2019, a stakeholder workshop aimed at logic modelling the Actions took place in February 2020. Further 3 meetings held from October 2020 to January 2021.
  • SSIs were laid in January 2021 to commence section 5 of the Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014 and prescribe who should have regard to the Guidance.
  • Appropriate Adults (AA) provide communication support for vulnerable victims, witnesses and accused during police investigations. In January 2020 secondary legislation placed a statutory duty on local authorities to deliver Appropriate Adult services and made the Care Inspectorate responsible for assessing the quality of AA provision.
  • The Victim Statement public consultation was carried out in Autumn 2019. Development and delivery of pilot projects to trial alterative options for where, when and how victim statements can be submitted required amendments to law. The Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003 (Supplemental Provisions) (Scotland) Order 2021 laid in parliament on 26th January will allow greater flexibility in how the powers relating to victim statements can be used.
  • In November 2019, we took forward a number of recommendations resulting from the Transforming Parole in Scotland consultation – promising actions so as victims can feel better protected, more reassured and better informed about the parole process. In March 2021, changes come into force through the Parole Board (Scotland) Amendment Rules 2021, setting out a procedure for victims, and family members of victims to be observers at parole hearings.
  • In 2019, the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service officially opened a new specialised Evidence and Hearings Suite in Glasgow, with funding support from Scottish Government. The Suite provides facilities to let child witnesses pre-record their evidence and for vulnerable witnesses to give evidence remotely away from the formality of a court room. The suite also provides hearing rooms for the Additional Support Needs Tribunal.
  • The National Joint Investigative Interviewing (JII) Project was established to develop a new approach to the joint investigative interviewing of children in Scotland to improve the quality of experience of child victims and witnesses, minimise re-traumatisation, and improve the quality of evidence gathered during joint investigative interviews to prevent the need for these children to have to give evidence in person as part of court processes. 2020/21 saw further piloting of the new model prior to a full evaluation around the potential for full national rollout.
  • The Children (Scotland) Act 2020, referred to above, contains measures to improve the experience of domestic abuse victims in the family courts.

Priority 7 - We will use prison only where necessary to address offending or to protect public safety, focusing on recovery and reintegration

  • The Scottish Prison Service has been taking forward a programme of work to modernise Scotland's prison estate to ensure it is fit for the future and able to meet the changing demands and complexities of the prison population. This includes the transformative plans for the new female estate where construction is currently underway on the new Women's National Facility and two Community Custody Units in Dundee and Glasgow, scheduled to be delivered in 2022. Other priorities include progressing the work to replace HMP Barlinnie and HMP Inverness.
  • The ability to track people who have offended or wanted individuals quickly in order to protect our communities is a priority. SIS II (second generation Schengen Information System) allows real time alerts to be registered and the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) allowed for quick and efficient sharing of information.
  • To encourage a further shift towards community sentencing, the presumption against short custodial sentences was extended by Parliament from 3 to 12 months or less in 2019.
  • The Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Act 2019 was passed unanimously by the Scottish Parliament on 7 May 2019 and received Royal Assent on 11 June 2019. The Act will raise the age of criminal responsibility in Scotland from 8 to 12. Additionally, it provides certain safeguards to ensure that harmful behaviour by children under 12 can be responded to in an appropriate and meaningful way, which will not criminalise children.
  • Community Justice Scotland published National Guidelines on Diversion from Prosecution in Scotland in June 2020, which was developed in collaboration with the Scottish Government and other partners including Social Work Scotland, COPFS, Police Scotland, and the Children and Young People's Centre for Justice.
  • The Scottish Government published national guidance on Structured Deferred Sentences (SDS) in February 2021, along with confirmation of a new incentive funding scheme starting in 2021/22, to promote consistency of approach in the delivery of SDS services and assist in their establishment where these are not currently available. SDS aims to provide a structured intervention for individuals upon conviction and prior to final sentencing. They are generally used for people in the justice system with a range of complex needs that may be addressed through social work and/or multi-agency intervention, but without the need for a court order. SDS also offers the opportunity for justice social work services and key partners to directly provide and tailor interventions for individuals.
  • Exploratory research has been commissioned by the Scottish Government to better understand the decision-making process around the refusal of bail. This is relevant to understanding the relatively high proportion of people held in Scotland's prisons on remand.
  • Since the launch of the National Strategy for Community Justice in April 2017, additional funding totalling almost £30 million has been invested in community justice services. This includes funding to support the implementation of the extended presumption against short custodial sentences; additional investment of £1.65 million over 3 years from 2019-20 to support and develop bail supervision services; and an additional £4 million invested from 2020-21 to support diversion from prosecution, bail supervision, and structured deferred sentences.


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