Transforming Parole in Scotland: consultation report

Analysis report for the Transforming Parole in Scotland consultation and resulting actions.


1. The Scottish Government has undertaken a full analysis of the 'Transforming Parole in Scotland' public consultation. The consultation sought views on improvements to the parole process in Scotland.

2. The Parole Board for Scotland (Parole Board) is a tribunal non-departmental public body that makes recommendations on the release of prisoners back into the community on licence. The Parole Board makes these decisions based on a rigorous risk assessment process. In making these decisions the Parole Board have to be satisfied that the prisoner no longer poses a risk to the public. Public protection is the Parole Board's primary concern. It is not the responsibility of the Parole Board to consider the questions of punishment and general deterrence. The issues of punishment and deterrence are matters for the court.

The Consultation

3. The consultation focused on five main areas:

  • How to strengthen the voice of victims in the parole process so that they can more directly inform the Parole Board's considerations and whether victims should have a right to have the reasons for parole decisions explained to them, so they can understand why the decision was reached.
  • How to make improvements to better support the Parole Board's decision-making and the transparency of those decisions including, improving how the Parole Board's decisions are communicated to victims and the wider public.
  • How to assist prisoners so they are prepared for parole hearings and understand the conditions of their parole (if granted) and what that will mean on release.
  • How improvements could be made to the supervision and recall of individuals, specifically 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.
  • How to strengthen the independence, governance and accountability arrangements of the Parole Board. The consultation sought views on whether this could be supported by transferring the Parole Board to the Scottish Tribunals (as created by the Tribunals (Scotland) Act 2014) to further augment and underline the independence of the Parole Board.

4. This report provides a summary and analysis of the consultation with the views of respondents and the intentions of the Scottish Government outlined after each section.


5. Responses to the consultation were submitted using the Scottish Government consultation platform Citizen Space or by email or hard copy.

6. It should be borne in mind that the number responding at each question is not always the same as the number presented in the respondent group table. This is because not all respondents addressed all questions; some commented only on those questions or sections of relevance to their individual interests. The report indicates the number of respondents who commented at each question.

7. All comments made by respondents were analysed. The range of issues mentioned in responses, including reasons for opinions, specific examples or explanations, alternative suggestions or other comments were noted. Grouping these issues together into similar themes allowed us to identify whether any particular theme emerged over others.

8. While the consultation gave all who wished to comment an opportunity to do so, given the self-selecting nature of this type of exercise, any figures quoted here cannot be extrapolated to a wider population out with the respondent sample. For example, where a single respondent is mentioned this does not necessarily equate to it being an organisation. In addition, some respondents selected 'Yes' or 'No' and did not expand with comments whilst others selected 'No Answer' but provided comments.

9. A small number of verbatim comments, from those who gave permission for their responses to be made public, have been used in the report to illustrate themes or to provide additional detail.

Overview of the Responses

10. There were 92 responses to the consultation, 60 of which were from individuals and 32 from organisations. Of the 92 responses, 50 wished their response published anonymously, 30 wished their response published with their name and 12 did not wish their response published.

11. Where permission was received, responses were published online on the Citizen Space website at:

12. The following table shows the distribution of responses by category of respondent:

Category No of Respondents % of all Respondents
Academic/Research 1 1
Local Government 11 12
Public Body, including Executive Agencies, NDPBs, etc. 3 3
Representative Body for Professionals 1 1
Third Sector/Voluntary Sector 6 7
Legal/Judicial 3 3
Other 7 8
Total Organisations 32 35
Individuals 60 65
Grand Total 92 100

13. A list of all those organisations that submitted a response to the consultation and agreed to have their name published is included in Annex A.



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