REFORMING OUR LEGAL SYSTEM
The Scottish Conservatives remain the party of vigorous action against crime. We have always stood for the protection of the citizen and the defence of the rule of law. We are proud that during the last four years we have been instrumental in delivering 1,000 extra police officers and a new strategy to tackle drug addiction in Scotland. However, crime remains a real concern for many people in Scotland today. The challenge for the next five years is to step up the fight against lawlessness and violence, so that our citizens can live free from fear.
We must tackle crime at its roots. Too many offences are carried out to feed a drug habit or are connected to alcohol. Unless we adequately address these issues, we will not break the cycle of re-offending. We must also ensure that children are adequately supported when a parent is sent to prison so that they do not get sucked into the culture of criminality.
We must ensure that the sentence fits the crime. A long prison sentence will remain appropriate for dangerous criminals, and fines and a tougher regime for punishment outside prison available as an alternative for less serious crime.
Victims of crime are too often forgotten about and we want to give them a strong voice at the heart of the criminal justice system. Further, local communities should have a much greater say over how decisions are made about their local policing priorities.
We must restore public confidence in our justice system. So we will re-introduce prison sentences of less than three months, so that custody can be used instead of community service where appropriate. However, we will also offer tougher community sentences that the courts and the public have confidence in: offenders will carry out meaningful jobs like litter picking, snow shovelling and beach cleaning, wearing a high-visibility uniform.
Now that such sentences will be available, the case for community courts becomes even stronger. We will pilot a community court in Glasgow.
Knife crime is a problem which blights too many communities across Scotland. The outgoing SNP Government has failed to take any action to address the concerns of the victims of knife crime or deter those who want to carry a knife. This needs to change. We will start by holding a nationwide knife amnesty to remove as many knives from the streets of Scotland as possible. As well as giving back to courts their full sentencing powers including short term sentences, we will end automatic early release so that more offenders are actually spending more of their sentence behind bars being rehabilitated and punished. The public expect knife carriers to go to jail and we, whilst recognising the sentencing discretion of the courts, will ensure that our reforms reflect this.
We will channel an element of funds confiscated under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 directly to charities and support groups that help the victims of crime. We will also create high-profile, Scotland-wide projects on which a significant number of those on community service can be employed, ensuring that community service is hard work for those sentenced to it, and consolidating the work of many of those involved in it into a benefit that is demonstrable to the Scottish public as a whole.
We will reform legal aid, in particular the scope of civil legal aid.
We will encourage better partnership working between the different agencies to ensure that anti-social behaviour is tackled swiftly and effectively. In order to tackle anti-social behaviour in some residential areas, we will amend the Land Reform Act (Scotland) Act 2003 to remove urban access lanes from its scope. We will also legislate to tackle the problem of high hedges where no agreement can be reached between neighbours.
REFORMING OUR PRISON AND REHABILITATION SERVICES
We are committed to the new Inverclyde, Highland and Grampian prisons and we will redevelop older parts of the prison estate when economic conditions permit in order to make them more focussed on rehabilitation.
We need to revolutionise the rehabilitation culture in our prisons.
We will move responsibility for the operation of community sentences from social work departments in local authorities to a new Scottish Prison and Rehabilitation Service (SPRS) to enable this change of culture. We recognise that for too long prisons have failed to properly rehabilitate criminals which is why the re-offending rate in Scotland is so high.
We will hold be a national review of all rehabilitation schemes currently offered to prisoners whilst in prisons and following release with a view to determining those that work and those that don't. We will guarantee that all prisoners get meaningful and constructive rehabilitation opportunities, irrespective of the type and length of their sentences. The new unified Scottish Prison and Rehabilitation Service will also run community-based sentences and this will help us make them more rehabilitative too. We will also ensure access to proper rehabilitation after sentences, which is extremely patchy at present.
We will create an official portal, controlled by the new Scottish Prison and Rehabilitation Service, through which community groups can "bid" for community service participants or even prisoners to undertake specific work. Those serving the sentence would all be monitored. It depends on an assessment of individuals and their records, but in most cases the groups benefiting from the work would not administer the offenders on their own, rather there will be supervision in place by employees of the SPRS.
We will introduce compulsory drugs tests for all inmates on arrival and departure from prison. We will extend drugs free wings in prisons and implement the national drugs strategy in every prison. In prison and outside, we will institute a national review on the implementation of the national drugs strategy.
REFORMING THE POLICE
Scottish Conservatives were responsible for delivering 1,000 additional Police Officers in Scotland over the last four years as a result of our budget negotiations, and we are committed to maintaining Police numbers over the next Parliament. In order to ensure we can achieve this at a time when the public sector has to make savings, we will merge Scotland's eight police forces into one.
We are committed to local policing and local accountability, so we will replace Police Boards with elected local Police Commissioners, each covering a distinct local area. Individually, police commissioners will hold local police to account such as by setting the local area's target for crime reduction. Police commissioners will not be involved in police operational issues. They would also work with the new sentencing and rehabilitation service. Collectively, they would provide strategic direction throughout Scotland, sharing best practice. They would be elected at local elections and share terms of office with councillors.
Giving people democratic control of the police is a huge step forward, but it is not enough. We need to give local people the information and direct powers they need to challenge their neighbourhood police teams to cut crime. So we will oblige the police to publish very detailed local crime data statistics every month, including crime maps, and require police teams to have regular neighbourhood beat meetings so they know what people's priorities are.
Please see pages 18-21 of the Scottish Conservative Party manifesto for this policy.
Please also see the Scottish Conservative Party spending plans and the Scottish Conservative Party summary budget which relate to their manifesto.
The party had no previous policy stated on its website for this topic for comparison.
Retrieved on 11/04/11 (2:24pm) from: 2011 Party Manifesto