News In Focus
Victims to have voice in Parole Board proceedings, ministers propose
Victims of crime will have greater involvement in the parole process for the offenders who caused them loss, under proposals put out to consultation today by Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf.
He proposes that victims and their families should be given information on the parole process at the earliest opportunity, and should be able to make representations to the Parole Board.
The consultation also covers:
- increased transparency about decisions;
- streamlining the process by which the Parole Board receives information needed to make decisions;
- changes to the supervision and recall of individuals;
- whether greater consideration of exclusion zones is required, where parolees are restricted entering from certain areas or approaching named individuals; and
- proposals to strengthen the independence, and governance and accountability arrangements of the Parole Board for Scotland.
The Programme for Government 2018-19 committed the Scottish Government to improving support for victims of crime, including consulting on parole. Today's consultation states that the proposals have been informed by the experiences of victims and families in the Scottish criminal justice process. Ministers are seeking a broad range of views.
Mr Yousaf commented: "As Justice Secretary I have listened to the experiences of victims and their families, and this has only reinforced my conviction that victims’ needs must be at the centre of the criminal justice system. Importantly, that includes ensuring they have better information, increased involvement and greater support ahead of prison release decisions.
"Parole Board for Scotland members do a difficult and complex job which requires careful judgment and expertise in assessing risk. By making improvements such as giving victims the opportunity to make representations to the Parole Board and ensuring openness and transparency, I believe we can strengthen public confidence in an already fair and robust system which recognises the need to provide opportunities for rehabilitation and reintegration."
Kate Wallace, chief executive of Victim Support Scotland, added: "The time is right to make victim-centred changes to the parole process in Scotland. It is vitally important that victims and their families feel safe and secure. Parole processes are an essential element to achieving this and I hope that a wide range of people, including victims and their families, respond to this consultation so their views can help shape the future of our parole system."
Click here to access the consultation. Responses are due by 27 March 2019.