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Community sentences to potentially replace short-term custodial sentences

The Scottish Government is considering plans to extend the restriction on short prison sentences. Current legislation in Scotland means that there is a presumption against short sentences of up to three months.

Under new Scottish Government proposals this presumption would be extended to 12-months. This will potentially lead to an increased number of offenders serving a community sentence, for example a community payback order, rather than a custodial sentence.

A number of justice organisations, including Victim Support Scotland, gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament earlier this week in response to the draft Presumption Against Short Periods of Imprisonment (Scotland) Order 2019.

Kate Wallace, Chief Executive of Victim Support Scotland, said: “From victims’ perspectives they want to have confidence in the criminal justice system and confidence that nobody else is going to be in the situation they found themselves in. That means putting enough resources behind the community payback orders so that they are handled effectively with victim and public safety front and centre.

“Community payback orders also need to target the offending behaviour and the underlining cause of it. For example, with cases of stalking, it is proven that targeted interventions around the fixated and obsessive nature of the behaviour is key to help stop repeat offending.

“We believe that it’s vital that victims are provided with updated information about their perpetrator, including when they are released back into the community. This will allow personal safety plans to be put in place to the avoidance of being retraumatised.

“Victim Support Scotland believe the safety, protection and wellbeing of victims of crime is of paramount importance when considering presumption against short sentencing.”


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