Prior to the committee’s consideration of the Scottish Government’s Management of Offenders Bill, the Justice Committee is launching a call for views.
The Bill seeks to enable greater use of electronic tagging, reduces the time before a conviction is ‘spent’ for the purposes of disclosure, and alters the makeup of Parole Boards.
The changes proposed to tagging could lead to offenders wearing tags fitted with more advanced GPS location technology. Ministers also foresee a point where tags could be used to detect alcohol or drugs in an offender’s system. The Bill would enable these and other measures in future.
Elsewhere, the Bill reforms the law on disclosing past offences to others, such as potential employers. The overall direction of travel is towards reducing the requirement to disclose by lowering the time limits before convictions become “spent”. For example the disclosure period for a prison sentence of between 1 and 2 years falls from 10 to 3 years. So-called “higher level” disclosure, affecting sensitive areas of employment, is not affected by the Bill.
The Scottish Government’s stated aims are to have more focus on crime prevention, rehabilitation, and support for victims.
Speaking as the call for evidence was launched, Committee Convener Margaret Mitchell MSP, said:
“Clearly any changes to the way we treat offenders needs careful consideration. Members will want to be satisfied that these measures strike the right balance between preventing crime, supporting victims and rehabilitating offenders.
“A whole range of stakeholders will be asked to give evidence, including the legal profession, victims of crime and ex-offenders.
“There will be many people with valuable opinions on these questions, and these views will help to inform the committee’s stage one report, as well as future stages of the Bill during its Parliamentary progress.”
The call for views is open until Friday 20 April.
Further information about the Bill, including the new timeframe for disclosure of convictions in table A, is available here.
The Committee’s call for evidence is here.