Women Offenders

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 4:47 pm on 13th April 2005.

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Photo of Hugh Henry Hugh Henry Labour 4:47 pm, 13th April 2005

No, thank you.

If a gap exists, we will seek to plug it. It would be a travesty to fail to recognise what has been done. That is not complacency. We have put money into arrest referral schemes, supervised attendance orders, structured deferred sentences and DTTOs. As for the criticisms of Cornton Vale, £3.7 million has been invested in new facilities there, where independent living units have been created and a family centre has been opened. In the community, we have initiatives such as the time-out centre, electronic monitoring and other measures that I have mentioned. We have spent much money on creating alternatives to imprisonment, but that is not the whole answer—to take that view would be crude.

The debate was good and well informed. I take comfort from the fact that people are willing to work together. Elaine Smith mentioned excellent initiatives, such as the storybook mums scheme at Cornton Vale. I am also enormously encouraged that the willingness to work together is felt not just among members, but among a range of voluntary organisations throughout the country that want to contribute. The Minister for Justice is keen to hear from them. Our faith communities have also made a significant contribution. The report "Women in the Criminal Justice System" by the joint faiths advisory board on criminal justice examined the subject in detail. All that is encouraging.

We need humility and humanity. We need the humility to recognise that we are not getting everything right and to be willing to move forward to operate in a better way. We also need the humanity to recognise that the human tragedies that have been described in the debate demand our attention and something better.