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Justice Secretary confirms shake-up of criminal justice

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has confirmed that a major shake-up of the way in which Scotland’s criminal justice system deals with women offenders is to begin with immediate effect following the findings of an expert report into female offending in Scotland.

An expert report into female offending by Dame Elish Angiolini was published in April and made 37 ambitious recommendations to the criminal justice sector for improving the management of female offenders in Scotland, including recommending the closure of Cornton Vale prison.

Mr MacAskill said that although some of the Commission’s most far-reaching proposals, such as an alternative to Cornton Vale Prison, couldn’t happen overnight, the system for dealing with female offenders in Scotland wasn’t working as it should and will now be overhauled, backed by significant funding.

Next steps include:

  • The Scottish Government agrees with the aims of the Commission’ report, has accepted 33 of the 37 recommendations and work will begin on delivering them with immediate effect. The remaining four recommendations will be examined in more detail, in consultation with the sector.
  • Ministers have asked the Scottish Prison Service to produce plans for improving the female prison estate, including finding a suitable alternative to Cornton Vale Prison, and the Scottish Government has provided an additional £20m capital funding for 2014-15 to aid this purpose.
  • This financial year, the Scottish Government is providing £1 million funding to support projects which will put the Commission’s plans for local delivery of community sentences and support for women offenders into practice.
  • The Scottish Government will consult later in the year on the options for restructuring community justice to agree the most effective and efficient ways of using the £100m it allocates annually to deliver community sentences, support to help offenders rehabilitate and to reduce reoffending in the future.