By | June 21, 2019



The SNP has taken another step towards the development of a smart, progressive justice system – as MSPs at Holyrood backed plans to extend the presumption against short sentences from three months to twelve months or less.

The proposals received support from Holyrood’s Justice Committee in a report published this morning, with all parties except the Tories backing the plans.

Despite the UK government admitting that there is “conclusive evidence” that replacing short prison sentences with community sentences reduces reoffending, Tory MSPs have attacked the approach as “soft touch.”

Tory ministers have consistently praised the Scottish Government’s approach to justice, with Rory Stewart MP saying “we have a lot to learn from Scotland, specifically on community sentences,” and David Gauke MP warning “there is a false choice between the narrow […] discussion about ‘soft’ justice versus ‘hard’ justice.”

SNP MSP Jenny Gilruth said:

“This report agrees that short-term imprisonment is often ineffective at reducing re-offending.

“Ministers in England have consistently praised Scotland’s smarter, progressive approach to justice. Yet in Scotland, the Tories insist on sniping at these reforms from the side-lines.

“Rather than being preoccupied with outdated arguments over “hard” or “soft” sentencing, the SNP’s aim is to develop an approach to criminal justice that tackles the underlying causes of crime.

“We are focused on developing a justice system which rehabilitates offenders, so that they can make a positive contribution to society.

“Our record on justice speaks for itself, and it’s frankly disappointing that the Tories in Scotland can’t agree with their Westminster colleagues that the SNP is leading the way in tackling the revolving door to our prisons.”

more info;

Presumption Against Short Periods of Imprisonment (Scotland) Order 2019–Order-2019/JS052019R14.pdf