The Scottish Government established a Commission on Women Offenders in June 2011 to look at ways to improve the outcomes for women in the criminal justice system. The Commission published its report on 17 April 2012 and the Committee took evidence from the Commission on 26 June 2012.
One of the recommendations of the report was that the Cabinet Secretary for Justice should report to the Scottish Parliament within six months of the publication of the Commission's report, and annually thereafter, on the steps taken to implement the recommendations in this report.
2012 Annual Report
The Committee took evidence from the Cabinet Secretary and Chief Executive of the Scottish Prison Service on the Cabinet Secretary's first annual progress report at its meeting on 6 November 2012. The Committee also agreed at this meeting to take evidence from the Cabinet Secretary on an annual basis following the publication of each annual report.
2013 Annual Report
The Cabinet Secretary for Justice provided the Committee with his second annual report on the implementation of the recommendations of the Commission's report in October 2013. He gave evidence to the Committee on 5 November 2013.
In November 2013, the Scottish Prison Service provided additional information to the Committee on the number of young women who have been accommodated in theSeparation and Re-integration Unit at HMP and YOI Cornton Vale.
The Committee wrote to the Scottish Prison Service and Howard League Scotland on 4 June 2014 regarding implementation of the Commission on Women Offenders’ recommendations. This correspondence and responses received are below.
On 5 August 2014 the Committee heard evidence from the Cabinet Secretary for Justice and the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) Chief Executive on implementing the Commission’s recommendations. The SPS Chief Executive subsequently wrote to the Committee with further information.
The Cabinet Secretary for Justice wrote to the Committee following the evidence session on 16 December on women offenders.
On 26 January 2015, the Cabinet Secretary for Justice wrote to inform the Committee that he had decided that current plans for a prison for women offenders in Inverclyde should not go ahead.
On 22 June 2015, the Cabinet Secretary for Justice announced his decisions in relation to the future custodial estate for women and the wider penal policy.
On 11 February 2016 the Cabinet Secretary for Justice announced that a number of women would relocate temporarily from HMP CorntonVale to HMP Polmont to allow preparations to begin on a new smaller national prison on the site of the current Cornton Vale.
The Cabinet Secretary for Justice provided the Committee with his fourth annual report on 3 February 2016 and gave evidence to the Committee on 9 February on the implementation of the Commission's recommendations.