In August 2013, the Scottish Government published a discussion paper on the 1974 Act with the closing date for comments being the end of January 2014 due to requests from some stakeholders who were keen to respond to the discussion paper. The discussion paper did not propose any specific changes to the 1974 Act, but sought views on the operation of the current rehabilitation of offender’s legislation. The purpose of the paper was to explain how the legislation operates and gather the evidence and views necessary to help us consider what changes may be required to modernise and improve the legislation. As such, the discussion paper contained 36 questions relating to potential reform of the legislation. We commissioned “Why? Research to undertake the analysis of the discussion paper comments on behalf of the Scottish Government. The Scottish Government has now published this report on the its web site.
Alongside the written responses to the discussion paper, the Scottish Government also commissioned ‘Recruit With Conviction’ to run 6 oral engagement events across Scotland with stakeholders during November and December 2013. The purpose of these events was to facilitate further dialogue on the discussion paper and to gather evidence particularly from employers and ex-offenders as to what type of reform they thought would be appropriate. The Scottish Government has now published the report by Recruit With Conviction.
In addition, the Scottish Government also asked ‘Positive Prisons’ to undertake engagement events inside prison with prisoners and prison staff in seven Scottish prisons between December 2013 and the end of January 2014. The purpose of these events was to gather the views from those individuals currently in prison and prison staff as to what type of reform they thought would be appropriate for them to the system of disclosure of previous criminal activity. The Scottish Government has now published the report by Positive Prisons.
The Scottish Government are currently considering the findings to come out of these 3 reports and will provide a full response in the summer. These reports will aid the formulation of a policy response that meets Scottish needs and strikes the right balance between supporting the rehabilitation of offenders and ensuring continuing protection for the public, and for vulnerable groups in particular.