John Finnie MSP

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Member of the Parliamentary Bureau

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Justice Committee 20 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 20, 2015
John Finnie (Highlands and Islands) (Ind)

Good morning, panel. You will have read Professor Fergus McNeill’s evidence. He makes a plea to the committee to raise the level of public debate, which I thought was very interesting and challenging, given that terms such as “sex offender” and “violence” are involved.

Earlier on in his submission, Professor McNeill talks about definition and clarifications, saying:

“The question of the ‘conditionality’ is much more complex. In my view, it is not helpful to refer to early release of short sentence prisoners as ‘unconditional’”.

I certainly subscribe to that view. Can you point the committee to ways in which we might address the terminology issue and raise the public debate on this matter?



Justice Committee 20 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 20, 2015
John Finnie

I do not think that Professor McNeill is capable of putting anything in a crude way, but further on in his submission he says:

“To put it crudely, simply ‘storing the risky’ for a little bit longer doesn't in fact serve to reduce it—the key issue for public safety is the condition in and conditions under which people are detained and then released, not how long they serve.”

Would you subscribe to that view?



Justice Committee 20 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 20, 2015
John Finnie

I know that there are some very dedicated people doing a lot of really good work in the Scottish Prison Service. Setting the proposal in the bill aside, is there an opportunity to enhance what is already in place?



Justice Committee 20 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 20, 2015
John Finnie

If the proposal is, as we are told, about enhancing public protection, could we instead beef up what is already in the system?



Justice Committee 20 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 20, 2015
John Finnie

Good morning, panel. We have a lengthy written submission from Scottish Women’s Aid, which has a lengthy section on post-release supervision of prisoners who are released early into the community. You will understand that that organisation wants reassurance for women, children and young people affected by domestic violence and it wants to have appropriate conditions. The submission makes a clear statement about the existing arrangements, stating:

“Breach of licence conditions must be regarded as a crime punishable in its own right resulting in the imposition of further penalties, and not just solely a recall to custody to serve the unexpired term of the original custodial sentence.”

Is that a challenge at the moment? What would the further challenge be if it were made a specific crime?



Justice Committee 20 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 20, 2015
John Finnie

How is that dealt with?



Justice Committee 20 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 20, 2015
John Finnie

Mr Watt, what is your view on that?



Justice Committee 20 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 20, 2015
John Finnie

Good morning, minister. I have previously been very exercised about this issue for the very particular reason that in the town where I live, which contains the only prison in the region, houses are closer to the prison’s perimeter wall than I am to you, and I am very concerned about the intrusion that could happen. I note the pilot projects that have been mentioned, but I do not know whether you are in a position to reassure the committee about the standard of the phone blocking and intervention and the fact that, for example, many people rely on telecare.



Justice Committee 20 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 20, 2015
John Finnie

That gives me zero reassurance. The way that somebody would know that their emergency alarm was not working would be if they fell and got no response.

Perhaps we can get more information on the pilot projects. Literally within a stone’s throw of the prison in the centre of Inverness, there are hundreds of properties and in many of them will be people who benefit from telecare. I am not a technical person. It may be that the intervention has no impact but I suspect that, given that it uses blocking technology, it has the potential to have an impact.

None of that is to suggest anything other than that I appreciate the significant threat that the possession of mobile phones by prisoners poses. We want to do everything possible to assist in eradicating that challenge to the Prison Service and people outwith the prison walls.



Justice Committee 20 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 20, 2015
John Finnie

I am grateful, minister. That would be helpful. I appreciate that technology moves quickly and that equipment might come on the market that will make things easier.

I move on to other issues. You mentioned RIPSA. In paragraph 12(c) of the supplementary legislative consent memorandum, we are told that the UK act, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000—RIPA—will be used to

“analyse the patterns of usage to establish that the phone is in use within a relevant institution”.

There is potential for collateral damage—or collateral interference—there as well, is there not?

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-12120.1 Jenny Marra: 2020 Vision, the Strategic Forward Direction of the NHS—As an amendment to
>> Show more
Not VotedDefeated

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

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

S4M-12095.2 Alex Johnstone: Tackling Inequalities—As an amendment to motion S4M-12095 in the name of
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12095.1 Willie Rennie: Tackling Inequalities—As an amendment to motion S4M-12095 in the name of
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12095 Alex Neil: Tackling Inequalities—That the Parliament agrees that a strong, sustainable eco
>> Show more
YesCarried

Selection of John Pentland MSP for appointment to the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body.
Not VotedCarried

S4M-12060.2 Hugh Henry: Commending the People who Keep Scotland Safe in Emergencies—As an amendment
>> Show more
Not VotedDefeated

S4M-12045.3 Shona Robison: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to motion S4M-12045 in the name of Rich
>> Show more
Not VotedCarried

S4M-12045.2 Jackson Carlaw: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to motion S4M-12045 in the name of Ric
>> Show more
Not VotedDefeated

Search for other Motions lodged by John Finnie
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-12008: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 08/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11817: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 04/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11737: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 27/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11517: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 12/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11347: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 29/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11236: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 17/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11152: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 08/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10931: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 04/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10795: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 13/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10640: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 22/07/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by John Finnie
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4W-24120: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 21/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23915: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 07/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23788: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 23/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23734: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 18/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23679: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 12/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23661: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 11/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23665: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 11/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23666: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 11/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23662: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 11/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23663: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 11/12/2014 Show Full Question >>

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