Victims of crime unable to attend parole board hearings, Tories claim
A Freedom of Information request by the Scottish Conservatives revealed that while 26 victims had requested to attend, none of them had been granted permission.
It comes despite changes introduced in March 2021 allowing victims and their family members to request the right to attend at the hearings.
Scottish Conservative justice spokesman Jamie Greene branded the situation as “yet another example of the criminal being put ahead of the victim in the SNP’s soft-touch justice system”.
The MSP said: “This proposal was intended to increase transparency for victims of crime – but has turned into just another broken promise from the SNP on victims’ rights.
“This scheme, while a small step in the right direction, was nowhere near enough from the outset.
“Yet now we find out that the SNP cannot even deliver this basic right for the victims of crime.
“The Scottish Conservatives’ proposed Victims Law will put victims at the heart of Scotland’s justice system by empowering them to have their voices heard when criminals are considered for release.”
The meetings see parole board members consider if an offender can be released.
Even if the family members had been allowed to attend meetings, they would have to be “silent observers”, with the then justice secretary Humza Yousaf explaining last year that allowing them to speak would require changes to be made to primary legislation.
Bosses at the Parole Board are said to be monitoring the Covid situation and the “observation of a hearing is expected to proceed as soon as it is considered safe to do so”.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The Parole Board continue to monitor the Covid situation and observation of a hearing is expected to proceed as soon as it is considered safe to do so and the necessary supports are in place.
“We continue to take forward measures to improve victims’ rights. For instance, we amended the Parole Board rules so that a victim’s safety and security can be taken into account by the Board, a victim can receive a copy of the Board’s decision and that decision can now be published.”
It comes just days after it emerged organised criminals are flouting proceeds of crime laws and keeping their dirty money,
Analysis shows that criminals were ordered to hand over almost £1.6 million of criminal proceeds in the first three months of 2021 - but they in fact paid just five per cent of that.
Scottish Conservative Shadow Community Safety Minister Russell Findlay described the figures as a “scandalous betrayal of every drug-scarred community across Scotland”.
Last week it also emerged police are failing to tell prisoners their rights.
It found “inconsistencies” in officers handing over the Letter of Rights – an important document that details what people in custody are legally entitled to.
The Scottish Police Authority’s (SPA) Independent Custody Visiting Scheme (ICVS) found “inconsistencies” in officers handing over the Letter of Rights, which details what people in custody are legally entitled to.
The inspectors have also recommended police improve explaining rights to vulnerable prisoners.
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