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Management of Offenders Bill passes stage 1

8 February 2019

The Management of Offenders (Scotland) Bill passed stage 1 at Holyrood yesterday with opposition MSPs agreeing the general principles of the bill while promising to press for significant amendments.

The bill is in three main parts, dealing first with the expansion of electronic monitoring of offenders as an alternative to prison, secondly with reforms to the system of disclosure of previous convictions, and thirdly with the constitution and working of the Parole Board for Scotland.

On part 1, MSPs focused particularly during the debate on the murder of Craig McLelland by James Wright, who had 16 convictions and at the time was on home detention curfew but had tampered with his tag and had roamed uninhibited for six months. Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf affirmed that the Government, police and prison service had accepted all the recommendations of the police and prison inspectorates who investigated the case, and an extensive review of the guidance on home detention curfews was underway.

For the Conservatives, Liam Kerr called for the tampering with or removal of a tag to be automatically an offence. He described the bill as a missed opportunity in a number of respects, and asked why the bill was going ahead when a consultation on the parole system was still in progress. Mr Yousaf replied that the bill had already been delayed for the inspectorate reports and it would be wrong to hold it back further. Many of the further reforms under consideration would not require legislation.

Click here to view the debate.

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