Women Offenders

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:30 pm on 13th April 2005.

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Photo of Cathy Jamieson Cathy Jamieson Labour 2:30 pm, 13th April 2005

I say at the outset to the Opposition parties that have lodged amendments that each of the amendments contains something with which we certainly cannot disagree. However, given the current structures, it is difficult to accept—indeed, we cannot accept—all the amendments and so, in the spirit of equality and in an attempt to get consensus, I will not accept any of them. Nonetheless, I will listen with great interest to the debate, because I suspect that, if the speakers reflect the tone of the amendments, there will be more to unite us than to divide us on the issues that we discuss. I hope that the Opposition spokespeople will take that in the spirit in which it is intended.

Last week, there were 312 women in prison in Scotland, very few for serious offences. Sixteen women were serving life sentences. Around one in five, including those on life sentences, were long-term prisoners sentenced to more than four years. Around one in three were either being held on remand or serving sentences of less than 12 months. Most people agree that short-term prison sentences are neither the most appropriate nor the most effective way of challenging women's offending. It surely cannot be beyond us, working together, radically to reform how we manage women offenders in Scotland.