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Scottish Government consults on prisoner voting rights

14 December 2018

Short term prisoners in Scotland's jails would be allowed to vote, under a proposal put out to consultation today by the Scottish Government.

Ministers are putting forward the reform to achieve compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights, as the Human Rights Court in Strasbourg has ruled that the current blanket ban in the UK is incompatible with the Convention.

The Scottish Government’s view is that it is not appropriate to give all prisoners the right to vote. 

Holyrood gained new powers over elections as a result of the Scotland Act 2016, and must now consider how to comply with the Convention in relation to prisoners voting. The current proposal relates to Scottish Parliament and local government elections.

Views are sought on a proposal to enable only prisoners sentenced to short sentences to vote and on what the appropriate length of sentence should be. A question in the paper suggests 12 months or less (minsters' favoured option), six months or less, or "another duration", as options for respondents.

Comments are also sought on the practical issues associated with giving some prisoners the right to vote.

Click here to access the consultation. Responses are due by 8 March 2019.


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