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Scottish electorate finally hears of Justice priorities from political parties – Justice for some, Injustice for others

05 Oct

 It took long enough for the issue of Justice to come into the election campaign, and finally the various political parties have come forth with their policies on issues of Law & Order.

Predictably, the issue of Injustice has skipped the mind & PR spin doctors of the major parties in the coming election, but there are tell tale signs of what we can expect.

Labour – would certainly seem to be wishing to tackle issues of injustice, with their track record of introducing & passing the LPLA (Scotland) Act 2007.

SNP – they certainly want to tackle some issues of injustice – Alex Salmond has claimed he wants a public inquiry into the Shirley McKie case .. but of course, whether there ever will be, is another matter – as one inquiry into an injustice may give rise for calls for many more.

LibDems – Injustice is a low / non existent priority in their policies – and we can expect bargains between the criminally funded LibDems to sweep away any talk of consumer reforms to the likes of dealings with the legal profession etc …

Conservatives – fancy dealing with the devil now do we ? … well, many would say the Conservatives have a strong Justice policy – but that only relates to Law & Order in the area of Criminal Law … nothing to do much with injustice or correcting the past wrongs of the likes of professionals ripping off their clients in all walks of life .. so nothing doing here either I’m afraid.

The rest … well, the following Scotsman article makes for good reading and a good summary of what we can expect .. so here it is, with the link :

http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=620302007

Laying down the law and order priorities

CRIME, and the fear of it, always figures highly in the priorities of voters and political parties. On one level, the debate over law and order in the forthcoming election can be boiled down to one question – which party will make Scotland a safer place?

On that front, the Labour-Lib Dem pact claims already to have provided some answers. After all, crime, or at least crime recorded by the police, is falling.
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But while the numbers may be heading in the right direction, there were still more than a million crimes committed in 2005-6 and many communities remain plagued by drugs, violence and disorder. And latest figures show the number of killings has risen.

So there are myriad law-and-order issues over which the main parties are competing fiercely for your vote.

What to do, for example, about Scotland’s high reoffending rate? Nearly half of all convicted criminals commit more offences within two years of receiving their punishment, leading Cathy Jamieson, the justice minister, to admit that the system, for some, is little more than a “revolving door”.

The parties agree that prisons, for many, do not rehabilitate and that chronic overcrowding only makes the problem worse, which is why sentencing policy – while not necessarily a headline grabber – figures large in many of the manifestos.

Then there is the problem of youth crime. The last administration failed to reach its own targets on cutting the number of hardcore young offenders. In fact, the numbers have risen.

Labour will reform the overworked children’s hearing system and the SNP has pledged to clamp down on underage drinking and reinstate the Airborne “boot camp” initiative. The Lib Dems believe early intervention is needed while the Tories want to expand youth courts.

Antisocial behaviour remains one of the biggest, and most controversial, issues, with Labour’s proposal for “instant ASBOs” and naming and shaming the worst offenders attracting plenty of comment. The threat posed by sex offenders also features prominently in several party manifestos.

The smaller parties’ proposals address a number of controversial issues. The Scottish Socialist Party, for example, is pledging to allow free heroin on prescription to registered addicts and give prisoners the vote, while the Greens have promised steps to address Scotland’s low conviction rate in rape cases.

POLICING

LABOUR
Establish a community police team in every area in Scotland. Introduce new police powers to tackle gangland criminals by allowing more cross- Border sharing of intelligence. Build Crime Campus to bring law enforcement agencies under one roof.

SNP
Recruit 1,000 extra community police officers, with at least two community officers in every council ward. Increase links between neighbourhood watch schemes and local police.

LIB DEMS
Recruit 1,500 more police officers. Work with chief constables to cut police red tape. Increase accountability by making police publish community crime statistics.

TORIES
Recruit 1,000 more police officers and encourage chief constables to focus extra resources on community policing. Create Serious Crime Taskforce, with police investigations supported by dedicated prosecutors and specialists.

GREENS
Place more emphasis on community policing and integration between police and social services.

SSP
Replace “ toothless” joint police boards with new community, regional and national boards, to improve the accountability of police.

ANTISOCIAL BEHAVIOUR

LABOUR
Double the number of community wardens to more than 1,000. Name and shame people who cause chaos in their neighbourhoods. Invest more from the proceeds of crime in community activities and CCTV. Introduce instant ASBOs, allowing police officers to take immediate action.

SNP
Roll out community reparation orders across the country. Make more use of restorative- justice panels.

LIB DEMS
More accountable police will encourage zero tolerance towards vandalism, graffiti and other forms of antisocial behaviour.

TORIES
Review and improve the working of the ASBO system, including consulting on giving revamped community councils a greater role in the process of applying for antisocial behaviour orders.

GREENS
End the “ obsession” with ASBOs – such orders should be used only as a last resort. Encourage police to focus resources on areas with high levels of antisocial behaviour.

SSP

YOUTH JUSTICE

LABOUR
Build culture of early intervention among teachers, health workers and social workers, to identify problem behaviour early. Establish youth panels, allowing peers to help change bad behaviour. Put more resources into diverting young people from crime.

SNP
Create community youth forums across Scotland to identify what amenities are needed in each local area. Ensure local youth facilities are run by young people.

LIB DEMS
Reform the children’s hearing system to deal more effectively with persistent offenders. Expand the use of electronic tagging for the most serious cases. Build three new youth courts in Kilmarnock, Paisley and Dundee.

TORIES
Ensure that persistent offenders aged 14 and 15 go to dedicated youth courts. Give children’s hearings the power to issue drug treatment and testing orders.

GREENS
Clamp down on under- age alcohol sales: culprits will lose their licences and buying alcohol for under- 18s will lead to prosecution. Extend crackdown on irresponsible drinks promotions in clubs and pubs to the off- licence trade. Reinstate the Airborne Initiative.

SSP
Provide more resources for the children’s hearing system. Invest in facilities for young people and revive youth work.

PRISONS AND SENTENCING

LABOUR
Ensure prisons are used appropriately by utilising supervised attendance orders for fine defaulters. Examine what further steps are needed to tackle drugs in prison and reoffending. Create Sentencing Guidelines Council to set out clear guidelines for judges and courts to bring more consistency to sentencing.

SNP
Replace Scottish Prison Service with new Scottish Custody and Rehabilitation Service. Replace prison sentences of three months or less with community sentences. Pilot new dual sentences, where judge sets community part of sentence at end of jail term.

LIB DEMS
Build an extra prison, allowing prison staff to spend more time on rehabilitation of inmates. Scrap early release. Introduce “ three strikes” system, with threat of longer jail sentence for repeat offenders.

TORIES
Create Scottish Sentencing Council to provide guidelines for judiciary. Have a presumption against custodial sentences of less than six months in favour of community- based punishment. Retain Peterhead jail.

GREENS
Replace “ very short” prison sentences with community disposals. Use prison only for offenders who pose genuine risk to public. Give courts power to force those convicted of environmental crime to pay for restoration.

SSP
Reduce prison population by expanding alternatives for low- level offenders. Introduce system of accountability for judges and sheriffs. Allow prisoners to vote in elections. Expand prison rehabilitation. Reverse privatisation.

SEX OFFENDERS

LABOUR
Improve process of offender release to “ rebalance” interests of public safety and rehabilitation. Introduce new arrangements for publicising identities of predatory sex offenders. Act on recommendations of Scottish Law Commission to tackle “ unacceptable” low levels of rape convictions.

SNP
Release the names and photographs of dangerous sex offenders who go underground to the community. Introduce traffic- light system to alert people when sex offender’s behaviour causes concern.

LIB DEMS

TORIES
Require sex offenders to undergo polygraph tests to check behaviour. Monitor their movements through satellite tracking.

GREENS
Will “ address” the low conviction rates for rape, sexual violence and sexual abuse.

SSP
Require every convicted sex offender to undergo a treatment programme either in the community or in prison. Provide more police resources to monitor and supervise sex offenders. Create secure units for the most dangerous offenders.

ACCESS TO JUSTICE

LABOUR
Expand the public defender scheme to cover the whole of Scotland by 2011. Improve criminal and civil legal aid so that it provides equal access to the law.

SNP
Improve access to legal advice in rural areas. Provide more grant assistance to help people access advice through Citizens’ Advice Bureaux.

LIB DEMS
Carry out root- and- branch review of legal aid system to ensure people across the country have access to representation.

TORIES

GREENS

SSP
Extend legal aid to cover workplace and consumer disputes.

MISUSE OF DRUGS

LABOUR
Provide free heroin on prescription to registered addicts. Expand rehabilitation and detox facilities.

SNP
Spend £ 100 million a year on drug rehabilitation. Ensure suspected drug dealers are tried at indictment level. Suspend visitation rights for prisoners found with drugs. Reintroduce random drug testing in jails.

LIB DEMS
Set up National Drug- Free Lives Unit to drive policy. Improve drugs education, including the use of former drug users in schools. Provide rehabilitation places specifically for mothers with children so they can be cared for during treatment.

TORIES
Extend drug treatment and testing orders to district courts. Double funding for drug treatment. Create national register of drug services.

GREENS
Increase spending on drug rehabilitation by 20 per cent.

SSP
Create more specialist secure rehabilitation facilities for prisoners who want to end drug use.

MISCELLANIOUS

LABOUR
Introduce corporate homicide legislation to place duties on individual directors.

SNP
Retain DNA samples and the fingerprints of all crime suspects.

LIB DEMS
Ensure victims of crime are regularly briefed by police and the Crown Office.

TORIES
Introduce new restrictions on the sale of firearms, with an attempt to transfer powers from Westminster.

GREENS
Bring in a fast- track appeals system to deal with suspected miscarriages of justice.

SSP
Bring in maximum s e v e n – y e a r combined custody and community sentence for possession of a knife.

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Posted by on October 5, 2007 in Law

 

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