Court ruling weakens Scottish Government policy on offenders
OFFENDERS given community payback orders instead of prison terms will no longer be in breach even if they commit a new crime, following a landmark ruling.
The Court of Appeal verdict weakens a Scottish Government flagship policy to rehabilitate offenders in the community rather than issue short-term jail sentences.
It means repeat offenders stand less chance of being jailed, because they will only be sentenced on their latest crime, rather than also on the fact that they were still completing a community punishment when it was carried out.
It also means that potentially hundreds of sentences will now need to be adjusted, so criminals are not found to be in breach even if they commit a new offence.
The law introducing community payback orders came into effect in February, last year.
They involve a mix of work in the community and requirements aimed at reducing reoffending, such as an instruction to attend anger management classes, or not to visit certain pubs that have been connected to their offending in the past.
However, until now, sheriffs had thought a requirement not to reoffend could also be made as part of the order.
But on Monday, three senior judges in the Court of Appeal, in Edinburgh, ruled that they were wrong.
Lord Clarke, sitting with Lord Menzies and Lord Osborne, said: “The purpose of these orders was, to a large extent, to enable the offender to repay his debt to the community for his offence and to assist him in keeping out of trouble in the future.
“A conduct requirement was intended to promote the aims of securing or promoting good behaviour by the offender or preventing further offending by him.”
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