Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf has welcomed the publication of progress reviews by HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland (HMIPS) and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) into the arrangements for home detention curfew (HDC) in Scotland.
Both independent reviews identify good progress against the recommendations made by the Inspectorates in October last year. The majority of actions have been completed, with the others well underway, and the Inspectorates found clear evidence of improvement to operational processes.
Mr Yousaf said:
“HDC is an important part of the justice system, preparing prisoners for release and enabling monitored reintegration, with most observing their curfew conditions. It is not an entitlement, however, and any decision must prioritise public safety.
“I welcome the findings of these reports which show real and demonstrable progress in improving the management of prisoners serving the end of their custodial sentence in the community. In particular, Police Scotland and the Scottish Prison Service have worked hard to improve information sharing between justice agencies and to ensure all staff involved in HDC decisions are fully trained and supported.
“The Scottish Government is committed to tightening the law further to protect the public. That is why we are legislating to give police new powers of entry and search to apprehend a person unlawfully at large from HDC or temporary release.
“We will continue to work with Police Scotland and SPS to ensure the HDC regime is operating as effectively as possible and that it remains an effective tool in providing structured monitoring on prison release.
“My thoughts remain with the family and friends of Craig McClelland, whose tragic murder led to last year’s review of HDC.”
The Cabinet Secretary has written to the convener of the Justice Committee to make Parliament aware of the publications, which are a follow-up to the independent reviews of HDC published in October 2018. The Scottish Government, the Scottish Prison Service and Police Scotland accepted all 37 recommendations contained within those reports and requested that both Inspectorates continue to monitor progress.
In April, the Justice Committee accepted an amendment to the Management of Offenders (Scotland) Bill which will create a specific statutory offence of remaining unlawfully at large. A final vote on the bill is due to take place before summer recess.
HDC is overwhelmingly used with short-term prisoners (those sentenced to less than four years) and the proportion of all those currently on HDC serving short-term sentences is 100%.
HDC is not an entitlement and certain categories of prisoner – including sex offenders, anyone serving an extended sentence and those subject to supervised release order – are automatically barred from being considered.
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