Tories urge FM to put tagging legislation on hold after ‘appalling’ killing
Ruth Davidson made the plea in the wake of the death of Craig McLelland, who was stabbed by a criminal on a home detention curfew.
Legislation which will expand the use of electronic tagging for prisoners must be put on hold in the wake of the fatal stabbing of a father-of-three by a prisoner who had been released on home detention curfew, Ruth Davidson has insisted.
The Scottish Conservative leader said it was “simply wrong” that James Wright had been able to take the life of Craig McLelland last year while he was “unlawfully at large”.
McLelland had 16 previous convictions, including two for knife crimes, when he was let out of jail.
Ms Davidson questioned how many offences are committed each year by criminals who have been released on home detention curfew, before telling the First Minister it was “unacceptable” that these figures are not collected and made public.
The Tory went on to call for the Management of Offenders Bill that was introduced to Holyrood in February to be put on hold while reviews of home detention curfew in the wake of Mr McLelland’s death take place.
She said: “Wouldn’t it make sense to put these plans on hold at least until we can reassure the public the system actually works. Isn’t it time to put victims first for once?”
The Conservative leader also demanded broader changes to the justice system, saying at the moment it was “tilted far too much” in the favour of criminals.
Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, Ms Davidson said: “This case has rightly drawn the focus on home release but the issues here go far, far deeper. Not just on home release, but on parole and on sentencing too.
“We say that it is simply wrong that someone with 16 previous convictions, including two for knife crimes, should be let out with a tag.
“It is wrong that victims and their families don’t have the right to speak at parole board hearings and it is wrong that victims can’t challenge the decision to let criminals out on parole.
“Scotland’s justice system is tilted far too much in favour of those convicted of crime and too often turns a deaf ear to the victims of those crimes.
FM: "What we need to do with sentencing is ensure that it is effective as it can be not just in punishing but in rehabilitating." #FMQs— The SNP (@theSNP) June 7, 2018
“It is long past time we had action from this government to correct that basic injustice.”
Ms Sturgeon said while the death of Mr McLelland was an “appalling case”, it did not necessarily mean that “the whole system is not working” regarding the use of home detention curfews.
She told MSPs: “These are some of the most difficult and sensitive issues that we discuss as politicians in this parliamentary chamber.”
She stressed the importance of rehabilitating prisoners in a bid to prevent future offending.
Ms Sturgeon said: “I am not and never would try to defend what happened in this case. But cases like this, appalling though they are – and this case is absolutely appalling – do not necessarily mean that the whole system is not working.
“Something went badly wrong in this case, it is important we look carefully at that and if there are wider lessons to be learned, we learn those wider lessons.”
Justice Secretary Michael Matheson has already ordered the police and prisons inspectors to carry out a review of the use of home detention curfews.
Ms Sturgeon also stated: “More generally it is not the case that our justice system is tilted towards criminals not victims.
“Scotland has one of the highest prison populations anywhere in western Europe right now, part of the problem is we know prison is not the most effective sentence in terms of reducing reoffending for some of those who commit offences.”