Management of Offenders (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 25th June 2019.

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Photo of Daniel Johnson Daniel Johnson Labour

As Liam Kerr has pointed out, the assessment of risk is absolutely critical to the bill, following the events that have informed its passage. I will quote, not for the first time, from the HM inspectorate of prisons for Scotland report:

“Whilst an assessment process clearly existed, it may not be regarded by some to meet the definition of ‘robust’.”

That is a clear call for a robust system of risk assessment to be put in place and for that to be required by law.

I recognise that amendment 127 puts in place guidance on that, and that goes a long way towards meeting those requirements. However, as I said previously, there is no legal requirement to apply that guidance, which weakens it. Although there might be recourse to judicial review, as members will know, you need particularly deep pockets to take such a course of action.

The bill would have been stronger if there was a legal requirement to apply the guidance and for risk assessments to be carried out for people who are being put on HDC, and that should have been stipulated in black letter on the face of the bill. It is a matter of regret that the Government is opposing that this afternoon.