Criminal Justice & Licensing Bill receives qualified support from Justice Committee

12.11.2009

The Justice Committee has given qualified support to the general principles of the Criminal Justice and Licensing Bill and highlighted areas of disagreement, in its report published today. A presumption against short-term custodial sentences was rejected by the committee.

The Bill covers more than 80 policy proposals including reforming the community punishments available to the courts, criminal law and criminal court procedure, and the development of licensing laws.

Committee Convener Bill Aitken MSP said: “This was a difficult piece of work, due to the breadth and complexity of issues covered by the Bill. It is true that much of the Bill represents a welcome update and clarification of the law both in the area of criminal justice and in licensing.

"For example, if the new Community Payback Orders are adequately resourced, they should simplify and strengthen the current range of community disposals.

"However, other proposals in the Bill, such as the creation of a Scottish Sentencing Council, the provisions on serious organised crime and disclosure and defence statements, raise as many questions as are answered.

"Most of the concerns expressed in the report were shared by all members. However, the proposal for a presumption against short periods of imprisonment was put to the vote and the committee rejected it.”

Background
The Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Bill was introduced in the Scottish Parliament on 5 March 2009 and referred to the Justice Committee as lead committee. The Finance and Subordinate Legislation committees have also reported on the Bill.

The Justice Committee received written and oral evidence from a range of sources all of which can be found on the committee web page.

The Stage 1 debate on the Bill is scheduled to take place during the week commencing 23 November 2009.

According to the Bill, a Community Payback Order is an order imposing one or more of the following requirements – a supervision; unpaid work or other activity; a programme; a residence; mental health treatment; drug treatment; alcohol treatment.

The function of the Scottish Sentencing Council is to prepare and publish guidelines relating to the sentencing of offenders.