Crime victims to have more say over the parole of prisoners in Scotland

Victims of crime in Scotland could be given a greater say over whether a prisoner is released from custody.

Proposals set out by the Scottish Government aim to improve the transparency and openness of the parole process in the country.

It would hand victims and their families increased involvement in the process and allow them to find out more about decisions taken regarding a prisoner’s release.

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A consultation has been launched to seek a broad range of views on the plans, which have been informed by the experiences of victims and families involved in Scotland’s criminal justice process.

Justice secretary Humza Yousaf said the plans could help strengthen public confidence in the system. Picture: Getty

It suggests giving individuals information on the parole process at the earliest opportunity and to allow them to make representations to the parole board.

Increased transparency about decisions, a streamlining of the parole process and changes to the supervision and recall of individuals are among other factors that will be considered in the consultation.

It will also look whether greater consideration of exclusion zones is required, where parolees are restricted entering from certain areas or approaching named individuals.

Justice secretary Humza Yousaf said the plans could help strengthen public confidence in the system.

“I have listened to the experiences of victims and their families, and this has only reinforced my conviction that victims’ needs must be at the centre of the criminal justice system,” Mr Yousaf said.

“Importantly, that includes ensuring they have better information, increased involvement and greater support ahead of prison release decisions. Parole Board 
for Scotland members do a 
difficult and complex job which requires careful judgment and expertise in assessing risk.

By making improvements such as giving victims the opportunity to make representations to the parole board and ensuring openness and transparency, I believe we can strengthen public confidence in an already fair and robust system which recognises the need to provide opportunities for rehabilitation and reintegration.”

Kate Wallace, chief executive of Victim Support Scotland, said: “The time is right to make victim-centred changes to the parole process in Scotland. It is vitally important that victims and their families feel safe and secure. Parole processes are an essential element to achieving this and I hope that a wide range of people, including victims and their families, respond to this consultation.”