The Week in Review

This week’s round up includes plans to consult on the use and regulation of fireworks, 50 years of the Parole Board for Scotland and the latest on the Age of Criminal Responsibility Bill.

Fireworks consultation

Community Safety Minister Ash Denham announced plans for a consultation on the use and regulation of fireworks in Scotland.

Fireworks are often associated with celebration and can be a route for bringing communities together but if used inappropriately or without respect for others fireworks can cause distress or even physical injury to people and animals. The consultation will inform any actions that the Scottish Government could take to reduce the negative impact of firework use.

Actions could include increased restrictions on where and when fireworks can be used; improved access to advice and support to reduce the anti-social impact of fireworks; and new national guidance to support local partner agencies.

Evidence will also influence Ms Denham’s ongoing discussions with UK Government about legislation governing the sale of fireworks, which is currently reserved.

Age of Criminal Responsibility

The Scottish Parliament voted to endorse the general principles of the Age of Criminal Responsibility  Bill in its Stage One debate. It will see Scotland lead the way in the UK, ensuring no child under 12 will receive a criminal record.

Parole Board’s half century

On Wednesday, the Justice Secretary celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Parole Board for Scotland at its annual conference. He reflected on the way the parole system has changed since the board’s creation and, looking to the future, gave an insight into broad themes that will be covered in the consultation on parole in Scotland.

The consulation will be launched this year and will seek views on a range of issues including how to strengthen the voice of victims and their families in the parole process and how to make parole processes more open and transparent.

Hate crime consultation goes live

Mr Yousaf joined Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell and Lord Advocate James Wolffe to launch the Scottish Government’s consultation on hate crime.

‘One Scotland: Hate Has No Home Here’ follows on from Lord Bracadale’s review of existing hate crime legislation in Scotland which included recommendations that additional statutory aggravations should be created for age and gender.

And finally…

Mr Yousaf marked the first birthday of SEMLA, the Scottish Ethnic Minority Lawyers’ Association, and the official launch of the Lord Craighead scholarship scheme.

He said: “A career in law should be open to all groups and all backgrounds to ensure the legal profession – and Scotland – benefits from their ideas, their talents and their potential to provide access to justice for all. Diversity is not a tick box, not something that is ‘nice to do’; it is a necessity.”

The CashBack for Communities Youth Work Fund is now open for applications. If you work with young people aged 10 to 24, take a look at the funding criteria. The closing date is 7 December.

The analysis of the consultation on a statutory Appropriate Adult service was published, showing broad support for government proposals.

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Appropriate Adult service consultation

Responses to consultation on establishing a statutory Appropriate Adult service were overwhelmingly supportive, analysis has shown.

Quote from Humza Yousaf, Cabinet Secretary for Justice "It is essential that vulnerable people with communication needs receive the support they require during police procedures, regardless of where they are located in Scotland."

Appropriate Adult services ensure vulnerable people with communication difficulties are supported during contact with police – for example during interviews and other police station procedures.

Appropriate Adults can assist victims, witnesses, suspects and accused in police investigations who are aged 16 and over and have communication difficulties as the result of a mental disorder. They are independent to the police and their role is to provide reassurance to the person they are supporting and facilitate communication between that person and the police if required.

Currently Appropriate Adult services are provided by local authorities on a non-statutory basis, and the way in which services are delivered varies across the country. Making this service statutory will enhance and regulate provision of support for adults who need it at a vital stage in the criminal justice process.

Between April and July, the Scottish Government consulted on a proposed model for the delivery of such a service, who should receive support and what that support should be.

The analysis of responses, published today, found that contributions came from a wide variety of stakeholders and responses were supportive of proposals.

Respondents included organisations currently involved in Appropriate Adult service delivery, justice sector bodies and groups who work with and represent individuals with lived experience of conditions which could result in them requiring additional support when in contact with the police. Among these respondents there was broad agreement on the proposed model for the service and a clear desire to work together to help establish and implement the service.

Commenting on the consultation responses, Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said:

“It is essential that vulnerable people with communication needs receive the support they require during police procedures, regardless of where they are located in Scotland.

“Respondents to our consultation recognised this, and we are grateful to each of them for sharing their knowledge and opinions with us. Work on establishing the service will now carry on.

“At the same time, the Scottish Government will continue to assess types of communication support which could be given at other stages of the criminal justice system, and for those under the age of 16, and build upon the work that is being done in setting up the statutory Appropriate Adult service.”

Work to develop the statutory Appropriate Adult service continues. It is scheduled to go live during 2019.

Read the report on the consultation responses.

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The week in review

This week’s round-up includes a visit to see community payback orders in action, bonfire night activity and the passing of the Prescriptions Bill.

Emergency Service thanks

Community Safety Minister Ash Denham joined the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service (SFRS) and other partners in urging people across Scotland to enjoy fireworks safely on Bonfire Night.  Later in the week the Minister visited Marionville Fire Station in Edinburgh to thank emergency service staff for their work both in the run-up to November 5th and on the night itself in order to respond to incidents and keep the public safe.

The SFRS said crews had responded to around 338 bonfires across Scotland between 5pm and 10pm on Monday, November 5, while Operations Control firefighters handled more than 723 calls from members of the public.

Community Payback Order visit

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf and Solicitor General Alison Di Rollo QC visited a Community Payback Order ‘unpaid work’ project in Dalkeith as the Scottish Government travelled to Midlothian to hold a cabinet meeting and public discussion event in Penicuik.

Go to theMidlothian Council website to find out more about the Mayfield public garden project and the benefits such CPO ‘unpaid work’ projects provide both for those undertaking the work and the wider community.

Civil law reform continues as Prescription Bill is passed

On Thursday the Parliament unanimously passed the Government’s Prescription Bill to improve the laws governing when an individuals legal rights and obligations are extinguished.

Negative prescription plays an important role in balancing individual interests, between creditors and debtors. It also serves the public interest in legal certainty by having claims raised promptly.

The 2017 Scottish Law Commission’s Report on Prescription highlighted legal issues around negative prescription that can lead to unnecessary inconvenience and expense.

Community Safety Minister Ash Denham, who led the final debate in Parliament, said “This new legislation supports our determination to modernise civil law so it is fit for purpose in the 21st century. These changes will increase clarity, certainty and fairness, and benefit persons or bodies in resolving disputes.”

Police and public bravery recognised

Also on Thursday the Justice Secretary attended the Police Scotland Bravery & Meritorious Conduct Awards at Tulliallan, where 64 police officers, two special constables, a member of police staff and 14 members of the public were honoured for their courage and service.

Mr Yousaf said: “We are indebted to everyone who has received awards and, on behalf of the Scottish Government, I offer our heartfelt thanks.”

Find out more about this year’s Award recipients via the #polscotbravery hashtag on Twitter or read the official Police Scotland news release.

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