Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf has hailed progress on an ambitious strategy to create safer and more resilient communities across Scotland.
Mr Yousaf thanked partners for the work done to achieve more than 80 key actions identified in the Justice Vision and Priorities for Scotland over the past year, as part of a promised annual update. He outlined further actions being taken forward over 2018-19 in an update paper, including:
- A package of measures to strengthen victims' rights and support
- Expansion of the Mentors in Violence Prevention programme and Medics Against Violence programme into more schools
- Consulting on reform to Scotland's hate crime legislation
- On-going joint response work between Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Scottish Ambulance Service, as part of wider public service reform, to share key data to identify vulnerability and focus on prevention
- Action to improve contact between parents in prison and their children, to support positive attachment.
Actions achieved in 2017-18 include:
- Work to strengthen support for victims of crime, including an updated Standards of Service for Victims and Witnesses, and the introduction of the Vulnerable Witnesses (Criminal Evidence) Bill
- The establishment of a new Health and Justice Collaborative
- The passing of the Domestic Abuse Bill
- The opening of four new prison visitor centres, reducing the negative impact on children who have an imprisoned parent.
Mr Yousaf said:
"Scotland has become a safer place over the past decade, with less crime, falling drug use and better support for victims. This strategy has focussed our priorities over the past year, and we have achieved a great deal in that time, thanks to the hard work of professionals across the justice system, and critically, in partnerships with wider public services including, health, education, housing and employment, and with the third sector.
"However, the job is never done and this update report has allowed us to see what has worked, and what we still need to do to tackle crime and the inequality that often influences the likelihood of someone being a victim or being drawn into offending.
"This update will renew our focus for 2018-19, to deliver on our priorities and achieve our ambition of a safer and more resilient Scotland."
Read the full report - Justice Vision and Priorities: Delivery Plan: Overview of Progress 2017/18
Developed and agreed by leaders of Scotland's justice system in 2017, the vision paper identifies effective approaches and emerging challenges across the sector, delivered under seven priority areas. A delivery plan, detailing how justice professionals will work with the wider public and third sector to achieve their vision, will also be published annually.
The Justice Board, which agreed the Vision and Priorities, provides leadership for Scotland's justice system to create an inclusive and respectful society where all people live in safety and security, where individual and collective rights are supported and disputes are resolved fairly and swiftly. Membership includes the Scottish Government, Police Scotland, Scottish Police Authority, Scottish Fire & Rescue Service, Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service, Scottish Children's Reporter Administration, Scottish Legal Aid Board, Scottish Courts & Tribunals Service, Community Justice Scotland and the Scottish Prison Service (SPS).