Paul Wheelhouse MSP

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Paul Wheelhouse MSP

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  • Member for: South Scotland
  • Region: Ar
  • Party: Scottish National Party

Paul is a member of the following Committees:

Paul is a member of the following Cross-Party Groups:

Parliamentary Activities

Search for other Speeches made by Paul Wheelhouse

Meeting of the Parliament 28 January 2015 : 28 January 2015
The Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs (Paul Wheelhouse)

I welcome the opportunity to be part of such an important, thoughtful and almost entirely consensual debate. It is clear that members across the chamber have a keen interest in getting better outcomes for women in the criminal justice system. I hope that Alison McInnes and Christine Grahame are right that the debate heralds an opportunity for us to move forward together as a Parliament, with the decision having been made. The subject is hugely important and the Government has shone a light on it since we established the commission on women offenders in 2011, which the former Lord Advocate Dame Elish Angiolini chaired, as we have heard.

I thank Richard Simpson for his kind words on the decision and on the approach that the cabinet secretary has taken in his new post. Rod Campbell is right that the decision was not taken overnight. On Monday, the cabinet secretary announced his decision that the Scottish Prison Service’s plans for a women’s prison in Inverclyde should not go ahead because the prison did not fit with his vision of how a modern and progressive country should address female offending.

I will come back to the points that Annabel Goldie and Stuart McMillan made, but the decision is about much more than just bricks and mortar, as the cabinet secretary alluded to in his comments to the Justice Committee in December last year. The Government believes that we need to be bolder and take a more radical and ambitious approach. On the justice system, we must be smarter in the choices that we make, be more sophisticated in how we deal with female offenders and take a preventative approach, as Gil Paterson said.

As the cabinet secretary said, we want to take an evidence-based approach that is much more effective in tackling the number of female offenders. Mike MacKenzie, Gil Paterson and Jayne Baxter are absolutely right to highlight the cost of incarceration. As many members said, for two decades there have been calls to reduce our female prison population, while over those two decades that population has almost doubled.

If we want to fundamentally shift our approach to tackling those issues, we need to radically change our penal policy. To do that, we need to tackle the underlying causes of offending in the first place, as Kezia Dugdale and many other members have acknowledged today. We need to help women to access services and support that help them to tackle their issues with mental health, trauma, abuse, drug and alcohol use and all the other issues that can result in someone getting involved in a cycle of reoffending.

As I said, in December the cabinet secretary signalled that he and his officials have entered into a period of dialogue with stakeholders and parliamentary colleagues. We will welcome constructive contributions, whichever part of the chamber they come from.



Meeting of the Parliament 28 January 2015 : 28 January 2015
Paul Wheelhouse

We agree that dialogue with the judiciary is important and we are happy to support the amendment. That addresses Alison McInnes’s question.

The issue was as live during the Labour-Lib Dem Administration as it is today and I welcome Kezia Dugdale’s acknowledgement of that. We all have an interest in tackling the issue, as Christine Grahame and Christina McKelvie said.

Today the cabinet secretary announced £1.5 million in 2015-16 to support community-based provision. That is consistent with the Government’s vision of how we will deal with women who offend, and I expect everyone across the chamber to welcome that. Our vision is of a women’s prison estate that has appropriate and separate custodial accommodation for high-risk women and separate accommodation for young women. Where possible, there should be smaller regional and community-based custodial facilities across the country for the majority of women who are sent to jail.

Stuart McMillan was right to focus on his constituency interest. I welcome the fact that he has engaged in dialogue with the cabinet secretary, as the constituency issue is obviously important to his local population.

There are occasions when custodial sentences for women are necessary, as a number of members said, and Dame Elish reported on that. However, the evidence is clear that community sentences are more effective in reducing reoffending and have the advantage of allowing women to remain in the community with their families while they take part in targeted work to address the issues that fuel their offending behaviour and to tackle their education needs—Stewart Stevenson was absolutely right to address literacy and numeracy and Richard Simpson gave useful evidence on that point in his intervention.

As the Cabinet Secretary for Justice made clear, the Government is determined not to accept the premise that female prisoner numbers must inevitably continue to rise. We are determined to reduce the female prisoner population and have more women doing the tough work that they need to do to turn their lives around in the community, which is a more desirable approach.

Stuart McMillan referred to a lady called Kim who was on the radio the other day. With your forbearance, Presiding Officer, I will read out what she said. On whether she had considered a custodial sentence and what she thought about it, she said:

“I was over the moon. I wanted to go to jail. Jail was an easier option to me than the troubled life I had outside prison, so I was all up for jail. You can just go in, keep your head down—that is that. You just forget about the other side, whereas outside I had to go back and face my past and stuff, and then that was really hard. Supervision is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. That is a major burden, so I don’t know if I’d be here. I don’t know.”

That refers to the point that Stuart McMillan made.

That is as powerful a testimony as we need to show why it is important to look at alternatives to incarceration. We must provide high-quality community services for women that will give sentencers confidence in alternatives to custody and, most important, provide the women with the support that they need.

To address Richard Simpson’s point, things have moved on. The Government has already invested significantly in community-based services for women—it has provided £3 million over two years for the 16 projects that Kezia Dugdale and others mentioned, as well as £18 million for the reducing reoffending change fund, which offers mentoring support for prolific young male offenders and women offenders of any age across Scotland.

As part of our wider work to reduce reoffending, the planned redesign of community justice emphasises collective responsibility through a partnership approach at a local level, which brings together a range of justice and non-justice partners and organisations, including local authorities, NHS boards, Police Scotland, the third sector and communities, to plan for and deliver improved outcomes.

As was set out in the Scottish Government’s programme for government, we plan—subject to parliamentary business—to introduce the community justice bill in Parliament in spring 2015. That bill will enable a new model for community justice services to be put in place. It will incorporate local planning and delivery of community justice services through community planning partnerships, and duties will be placed on bodies such as NHS boards, local authorities and Police Scotland to engage in local strategic planning and delivery of services.

That will be supplemented by the creation of a new public body—community justice Scotland—that will provide leadership; promote innovation, learning and development; provide assurance to ministers on the delivery of outcomes; and drive improvement where it is required. That will ensure that community justice is given the profile and priority that are required to improve outcomes for all offenders across Scotland.

The closer alignment of planning for services for all members of a community should help local partners to see clearly what their role is in sustaining the delivery of the enhanced services for women that the Government has supported over the past two years.

Mike MacKenzie was right—we need to avoid handing on the misery to the children of offenders. Although the focus of the report of the commission on women offenders was on women who offend, it said that the evidence was overwhelming that intervening in the early years of life has significantly more impact on offending rates than intervening later in life does.

It is just as important that we address the intergenerational aspect of our offending population—male and female—which often arises in the most deprived communities across Scotland. Elaine Murray, Mary Fee and Mike MacKenzie remarked on that. The Angiolini commission strongly supported evidence-based parenting programmes and intensive family support.

I thank Kezia Dugdale for raising the hugely important social justice issue of women offenders. I look forward to the Government receiving the cross-party support that members have indicated that they will provide as we continue to work to deliver the recommendations of Elish Angiolini’s commission.

17:18  

Meeting of the Parliament 15 January 2015 : 15 January 2015
The Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs (Paul Wheelhouse)

All workers, including those who serve the public, deserve protection from abuse and violence. That is why Scotland’s justice system provides for protection for all workers under the common law of assault, threatening and abusive behaviour and breach of the peace. We fully support our police, prosecutors and courts in dealing robustly with people who offend against public-facing workers.

In addition, the Scottish Government provides financial support to the Scottish business resilience centre, which works with employers to put in place measures to help keep members of staff safe from abuse and violence while they are at work.

The Regulatory Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 introduced additional provisions to extend protection to Scottish Environment Protection Agency officers in the conduct of their duties.



Meeting of the Parliament 15 January 2015 : 15 January 2015
Paul Wheelhouse

As I outlined in my first answer, we took action in passing the 2014 act to protect front-line workers in SEPA. Hugh Henry’s point about us not taking action and just offering warm words is entirely false. We recognise the issue that he raises with regard to emergency workers.

We supported the Crown Office’s views on the difference between emergency workers and public-facing workers. The Lord Advocate, Colin Boyd QC, took part in 2004 in the parliamentary debates on the bill that became the Emergency Workers (Scotland) Act 2005. He said:

“It is completely unacceptable that anyone should be the subject of assault or abuse at work. We want to make sure that the law is an effective tool in ensuring the safety and welfare of emergency workers and all public service workers. We are prudent to recognise that legislation is not the answer in every case. In some situations the best possible solutions lie within existing law. I am firmly of the view that this is true for the protection of public service workers.”

We take the issue seriously but, as I said, existing laws can be enforced in respect of assault, offensive behaviour and breach of the peace, and that is what we intend to do.



Meeting of the Parliament 07 January 2015 : 07 January 2015
The Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs (Paul Wheelhouse)

The Scottish Government has regular meetings with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service at which it receives updates on a range of issues including control rooms. That was one of the issues that were discussed at my initial meeting with the service before Christmas, and we are meeting again tomorrow.



Meeting of the Parliament 07 January 2015 : 07 January 2015
Paul Wheelhouse

I am happy to discuss those issues with the SFRS tomorrow. I note the member’s long-standing interest in the issue with regard to Edinburgh and I am happy to take forward those matters and keep in touch with her on them.



Justice Committee 06 January 2015 : 06 January 2015
The Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs (Paul Wheelhouse)

I do indeed, convener.



Justice Committee 06 January 2015 : 06 January 2015
Paul Wheelhouse

Thank you very much for the late Christmas present. Happy new year, everybody.



Justice Committee 06 January 2015 : 06 January 2015
Paul Wheelhouse

There are three affirmative orders being made under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers—



Justice Committee 06 January 2015 : 06 January 2015
Paul Wheelhouse

I am sorry; we have the instruments in the wrong order.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-12182.1 Alex Fergusson: The Chilcot Inquiry—As an amendment to motion S4M-12182 in the name of N
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12182 Nicola Sturgeon: The Chilcot Inquiry—That the Parliament calls for Sir John Chilcot’s offi
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12176 John Swinney: Community Charge Debt (Scotland) Bill—That the Parliament agrees to the gene
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12160.2 Michael Matheson: Women Offenders—As an amendment to motion S4M-12160 in the name of Kez
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12160.3 Margaret Mitchell: Women Offenders—As an amendment to motion S4M-12160 in the name of Ke
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12160 Kezia Dugdale: Women Offenders—That the Parliament welcomes the decision of the Scottish G
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12154.1 Lewis Macdonald: Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) – Supporting Indivi
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12120.1 Jenny Marra: 2020 Vision, the Strategic Forward Direction of the NHS—As an amendment to
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12101 John Swinney: Budget (Scotland) (No.4) Bill—That the Parliament agrees to the general prin
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12095.4 Ken Macintosh: Tackling Inequalities—As an amendment to motion S4M-12095 in the name of
>> Show more
NoDefeated

Search for other Motions lodged by Paul Wheelhouse
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11509: Paul Wheelhouse, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11029: Paul Wheelhouse, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 29/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10972: Paul Wheelhouse, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 22/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09916: Paul Wheelhouse, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 01/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09294.3: Paul Wheelhouse, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/03/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09280: Paul Wheelhouse, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/03/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08517: Paul Wheelhouse, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 05/12/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-07106: Paul Wheelhouse, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 20/06/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-06845.2: Paul Wheelhouse, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 04/06/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-06798: Paul Wheelhouse, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 30/05/2013 Show Full Motion >>
This Member currently holds a ministerial post. First Minister and Ministers cannot ask the Government questions which is why no recent questions are displaying here. Please use the full search to find details of previous questions by this Member.
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4W-09164: Paul Wheelhouse, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/08/2012 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-01238: Paul Wheelhouse, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 27/06/2012 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-01063: Paul Wheelhouse, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 16/05/2012 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-07135: Paul Wheelhouse, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/05/2012 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-07133: Paul Wheelhouse, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/05/2012 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-07134: Paul Wheelhouse, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/05/2012 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-01044: Paul Wheelhouse, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 09/05/2012 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-07085: Paul Wheelhouse, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 08/05/2012 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-07045: Paul Wheelhouse, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 02/05/2012 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-07043: Paul Wheelhouse, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 02/05/2012 Show Full Question >>

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