Building a safer and stronger Scotland
Moves to ensure Scotland is safer and stronger moved closer today as the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Bill passed Stage One of the parliamentary process.
The comprehensive Bill, the largest piece of legislation introduced by the Scottish Government, includes provisions on more than 80 topics.
From tackling serious organised crime, to the establishment of a Scottish Sentencing Council, to bringing in a presumption against short prison sentences in favour of tough Community Payback Orders, and modifications to the Licensing (Scotland) Act, the Bill proposes significant changes to the Scottish justice system.
Welcoming the Bill's success in passing Stage One, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said:
"This is a comprehensive Bill which shows the ambition of this Government to help build a safer and stronger Scotland. We need modern and effective laws which tackle criminals and their criminal behaviour.
"I want to ensure that the dedicated people working within our criminal justice system are equipped to deal with all the impacts of offending from the moment a crime is committed, through the police investigation and court process, to when the sentence is handed out to an offender."
The Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Bill includes measures to:
- Create a Scottish Sentencing Council to ensure greater transparency and consistency in the sentencing process.
- Make sentences served in the community more robust, immediate and visible through creation of the Community Payback Order.
- Take the fight to those involved in organised crime through the creation of new serious organised crime offences.
- Crack down on prisoners who make use of advances in mobile phone technology to run their criminal empires from prison.
- Raise the age at which a child can be prosecuted in adult courts from eight to 12 to help ensure the rights and needs of children are balanced properly with the protection of communities.
- Help the courts and prosecutors through a number of sensible reforms to the criminal law and court procedures - ensuring the interests of justice are served and protecting the right of victims and witnesses.
- Assist in the detection of crime through improvements to the law as regards when DNA and fingerprint data is able to be retained for use in detecting and prosecuting crime.
- Provide a statutory framework for the disclosure of evidence to the defence in criminal cases - confirming the integrity as to how our courts deal with cases.
- Ensure licensing laws are robust. Following the introduction of this Bill, it was decided that the Scottish Government would bring forward a separate Bill to deal with a number of alcohol related measures including the proposals relating to the off sale of alcohol to those aged 21 or under and the introduction of a social responsibility levy. As a result, The Scottish Government intends to seek to remove section 129 (sale of alcohol to persons under 21 etc.) and section 140 (licensed premises: social responsibility levy) of this Bill at Stage 2.
The Criminal and Licensing (Scotland) Bill was was introduced into the Scottish Parliament in March 2009.