As the new session of the Scottish Parliament gets underway, MSPs on the Scottish Parliament’s Criminal Justice Committee are visiting the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) and HMP Edinburgh, this Thursday 26 August.
The Committee is expected to hear how Scottish courts have adapted to COVID and how they see the recovery progressing, including plans to clear the backlog of almost 50,000 trials.
The SCTS visit will include a demonstration of courtroom facilities and links to remote jury centres, as well as meetings with the Lord President, Rt Hon Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge, and SCTS Chief Executive, Eric McQueen.
At HMP Edinburgh, MSPs will focus on:
• facilities offered to prisoners, including those with more complex health or disability issues,
• new arrivals to prison,
• dealing with serious organised crime groups and violence in prisons, and
• parole, education, rehabilitation and ‘Throughcare’ for those leaving prison.
Criminal Justice Committee Convener, Audrey Nicoll MSP, said:
“The new Criminal Justice Committee is currently on a mission to listen and learn about the priorities of those working in the justice sector.
“Courts and prisons are a cornerstone of justice in Scotland, and I know Members will appreciate the views of everyone we meet today – from the prisoners in HMP Edinburgh to the Lord President, our most senior judge.
“We will use September to hear from others with frontline experience and expertise. This knowledge will shape where we focus our attention in the months ahead.”
The Committee has agreed that its first meetings will hear from a wide range of Criminal Justice sector stakeholders, as well as hearing what the Scottish Government’s priorities are in this area.
This is expected to include updates around the role of the Lord Advocate within the prosecution system and government, the future of Scotland’s three-verdict system and the wider sector’s recovery from COVID-19.
The Justice Committee Convener will hold a briefing for media in the coming weeks on the Committee’s priorities and expected work in the year ahead (once work programme clearer / Programme for Government announced). Please note interest by replying to Greg.Black@parliament.scot.
Details of initial September work programme:
• Morning of Wednesday 1 September – evidence session with Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Minister for Community Safety on the Scottish Government’s justice and policing priorities for session 6,
• Morning of Wednesday 8 September – roundtable with a range of witnesses on the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on the justice sector,
• Morning of Wednesday 15 September – two roundtables:
1) Priorities for prisons and prison policy in session 6, and
2) Priorities for youth offending, community justice and alternatives to prisons in session 6,
• Morning of Wednesday 22nd September – two roundtables:
1) Priorities for domestic abuse, gendered-violence and sexual offences in session 6, and
2) Victim support and victims’ rights,
• Morning of Wednesday 29 September – roundtable on reform of legal aid.
Subject to agreement, a further roundtable on the misuse of drugs is also planned.