Scottish Justice System (Parole)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 23rd June 2022.

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Photo of Liam Kerr Liam Kerr Conservative

Last week,

The Courier

’s headline, “Dundee killer Robbie McIntosh to get parole hearing this summer”, related to a murderer who, in 2017, while on home leave from serving a life sentence, carried out a brutal attempt to murder a random, lone, female dog walker in Templeton woods in Dundee. In October 2017, he was sentenced to a lifelong restriction order, with a minimum of five years before being considered for release on licence. We now learn that that dangerous individual will be given a parole hearing on or around 8 August, which is the day after the anniversary of the attack and less than five years from sentencing.

What message does that send to women such as the victim of that shocking attack, other than that this Government’s justice system will not protect them?

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

Before responding to the question, I acknowledge again Mrs McDonald’s bravery in continuing to raise the issues. I know that she wants to ensure that all parties learn from the case; that is certainly what I want and what I am determined will happen.

There was a significant case review of the matter, and the Scottish Government and the Scottish Prison Service accepted all the review’s recommendations for them. The SPS has already taken a range of actions to respond to those recommendations.

Home leave for prisoners—I am not talking about this particular case at the moment; I am talking about the situation in general—is a necessary and accepted part of the rehabilitation process. Rightly, prisoners are subject to assessment and review, and when a situation arises that shows that that has not gone in the way that it should have done, it is absolutely vital that lessons are learned.

On parole hearings, the sentence imposed following conviction in any case is a matter for a court. In turn, that determines when someone who is sentenced to an order for lifelong restriction may be considered for parole under licence conditions. It is then a matter for the independent parole board to consider when and whether an individual can be released.