Justice and Safety
The week in review
On ministers’ agenda this week have been the investment of ill-gotten gains into creative projects and new opportunities for young people, a new facility to promote fire and home safety, leadership in policing, and the latest on the Scottish Government’s progressive penal reforms to tackle offending and safeguard communities.
Reforms to keep crime down and communities safe
Cabinet Secretary for Justice Michael Matheson set out to Parliament this week a range of justice reforms aimed at continuing to reduce reoffending rates – currently at an 18-year low – to help keep crime down and communities safe.
As confirmed in the recent Programme for Government, our penal reform plans include extending the presumption against short prison sentences from 3 to 12 months after new domestic abuse laws are in place, and giving the courts and justice partners more opportunities to use electronic monitoring as part of managing and supporting individuals with convictions to avoid further offending.
On Thursday morning Mr Matheson met staff and women involved in a community justice project in Fife that helps women make positive changes to their lives and reduce the likelihood of re-offending. There is more in the video below.
Later that day in Parliament, Mr Matheson also announced that Scotland’s first two Community Custody Units, to manage a small number of appropriately assessed women prisoners closer to local community services and support, would be located in Maryhill, Glasgow and at a site yet to be confirmed in Dundee.
“There will always be cases where the court rightly takes the view that a prison sentence is absolutely justified, but for those who do end up in custody, we must think beyond bricks and mortar,” the Justice secretary said, paying tribute to the professionalism of Scotland’s prison staff.
You can read the full Parliamentary statement on the Scottish Government website.
And for a real-life insight into the powerful impact which a community sentence had on one mother, when imposed as an alternative to custody, read her personal story on the Community Justice Scotland website.
Cashback for Creativity
On Wednesday Mr Matheson joined Creative Scotland to reveal the 49 youth arts projects which will share in £1.7m funding drawn from criminal assets seized and recovered by Scotland’s law enforcement agencies.
‘CashBack for Creativity’ is funded by the Scottish Government through the CashBack for Communities programme which redistributes the proceeds of crime to benefit young people.
Youth clubs, schools, community groups and arts organisations will be offering a wide range of activities through the programme, which aims to tackle inequality by removing barriers to the access and provision of arts and creative experiences for young people aged 10-24, regardless of background or situation.
CEO of the national youth work agency YouthLink Scotland Jim Sweeney MBE said: “It is often through the power of creative experiences that young people realise there is a positive path in life and they can achieve their ambitions despite difficult circumstances they may face. CashBack is an investment in the next generation and a mark of a society that values all its young people.”
Watch more from the launch by clicking on the Video from Creative Scotland.
Safe as houses
The most vulnerable members of Scotland’s communities will receive greater support to stay safe at home thanks to a new training facility launched by the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service (SFRS) on Wednesday.
Crews will be trained at the Safe and Well House at SFRS Headquarters in Cambuslang which recreates a domestic environment with hidden hazards and also help identify the needs of those living with dementia.
The house was officially opened by Minister for Community Safety Annabelle Ewing.
She said: “This impressive new facility will be used to provide practical, interactive, experiential safety education for both SFRS staff and those from partner agencies. It will also contribute to our collective aim of improving fire safety within Scottish homes whilst building on our ambition of a more holistic person centred approach, in supporting health and wellbeing outcomes.”
Assistant Chief Officer David McGown added: “The potential here is incredible. What was previously a traditional fire-fighting training facility now recreates a domestic environment, enabling fire-fighters to undertake training on home safety and community issues.
“We hope our Safe House will also be used by our partners who provide education and housing, the NHS, the other blue light services, and the third sector, to name but a few.”
On Tuesday the Justice Secretary made a Parliamentary statement to update MSPs about the leadership of Scottish police.
Mr Matheson said he welcomed the fact that Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone had reconsidered his plans to retire in the Autumn and that he will continue in post to provide leadership to Police Scotland in the Chief Constable’s absence.
“DCC Livingstone’s own assessment of the leadership situation is that Police Scotland has a strong and resilient command team in place who are supported by thousands of dedicated and hard-working police officers and staff who remain committed to providing an excellent service” the Justice Secretary said, adding that he shared that view.
MSPs were also updated on the on-going appointment processes for the chief executive and the chair positions of the Scottish Police Authority, during Mr Matheson’s statement – the full text of which can be read on the Scottish Government website.
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Human Trafficking Awareness
Human trafficking awareness was very much to the fore this week with an awareness event in Kirkcaldy at a conference hosted by Police Scotland.
And UK Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner Kevin Hyland OBE highlighted his support for the developing Scottish approach on dealing with victims of trafficking.
— Kevin Hyland OBE (@UKAntiSlavery) September 13, 2017
Last month the Scottish Government launched a public awareness campaign, highlighting how trafficking has been identified right across the country. In June the Scottish Government gave the courts greater powers to protect the public with the introduction of Trafficking and Exploitation Prevention Orders (TEPOs) – to impose restrictions on people who have been convicted of such offences.
And also in June this year the Justice Secretary announced that support for victims of human trafficking was being doubled to at least 90 days.
For information on the signs of human trafficking and to report concerns visit the Modern Slavery Helpline online.