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

I rise to speak to amendments 2 and 128. Before I do that, I will address the cabinet secretary’s comments on amendments 61 and 126.

I saw with some regret that the Government had lodged amendment 61, because I believe that a clear recommendation from Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary in Scotland and Her Majesty’s inspectorate of prisons for Scotland was the need to improve information sharing between agencies. That was found by those bodies to be one of the critical issues around the tragic death of Craig McClelland. I recognise that amendment 126 would insert an alternative, but I do not believe that it would be as robust as a legal requirement to share information. That would be much more robust. However, if amendment 61 is agreed to, members should support amendment 126.

With regard to amendments 2 and 128, the justice system has a duty to protect the public, and it should aim for what I believe is the best way to do that: promoting reform and preventing reoffending. All too often, as the system stands, we simply return people to the circumstances in which they found themselves, which led to their offending in the first place. Amendments 2 and 128 seek to change that, and the amendments that I lodged at stage 2 regarding access to a general practitioner, an address and other measures also sought to rectify that situation.

I understand that it may be difficult and costly, but those things are vital because they are not happening. There may be standards in place, but I do not believe that a legal duty currently exists. The SHORE—sustainable housing on release for everyone—standards do not have a statutory footing. Wales has legislated for such a duty, and I simply ask the question: if it is good enough for Wales, why is it not good enough for Scotland?

As for meaningful activity, I fundamentally believe that the best way to prevent reoffending is by finding people meaningful work. That may be difficult, and I know that the Scottish Government does not control the employment market, but, if people are being released from prison, albeit on HDC, something must surely be found for them to do if we are to ensure that they do not reoffend. For those reasons, I will move amendments 2 and 128.