By Bill Heaney
Woman and girls will be better protected and victims’ needs prioritised as part of reforms to improve justice services and create safer communities.
The Vision for Justice Delivery Plan published today also includes actions to address long-standing challenges in the system faced by victims of sexual offences, and the continued modernisation of the prison estate.
Setting out an ambitious programme of reforms that are being taken forward to March 2026, the plan puts a fresh focus on early intervention to prevent and reduce crime to make communities safer.
The reforms build on the significant progress already achieved since February 2022, when the Scottish Government published the Vision for Justice – outlining a strategy to modernise, strengthen and improve the justice sector to ensure it meets the needs of all who use it.
Reforms planned up to March 2026 include:
- the introduction of a Misogyny Bill to create new offences related to misogynistic conduct
- continued modernisation of the prison estate, including opening HMP Highland and starting building work on HMP Glasgow to replace Barlinnie
- the national roll-out of a system to digitally transform how evidence is managed across the justice sector, benefiting victims and witnesses by supporting quicker resolution of cases
- expanding the availability of mediation services in civil disputes to save people time, stress and money
Justice Secretary Angela Constance, right, said: “This Delivery Plan maps out further actions to reform, modernise and strengthen the justice system so it better meets the needs of victims, reduces reoffending, and ensures rates of offending continue to be at historic lows.
“The reforms are bold and wide-ranging – they include action to better protect women and girls, improve services for children and prevent and reduce crime through early intervention.
“The Vision sets out our transformative vision for the justice sector, and this updated delivery plan, which has been approved by our justice partners, shows the significant process that has been made so far.
“This includes the introduction of the Victims, Witnesses and Criminal Justice Reform (Scotland) Bill – which, if passed, will put victims and witnesses right at the heart of the justice system, and the creation of Bairns’ Hoose test sites to ensure a range of trauma-informed support is available to child victims and witnesses of abuse and harm.
“At the heart of all this work is our determination to build a trauma-informed and person-centred justice system in which individuals and communities can trust.”
The Vision for Justice sets out the Government’s transformative vision for the justice sector for this parliamentary term and beyond.
Progress made since the publication of the Vision in February 2022 includes:
- the introduction of the Victims, Witnesses and Criminal Justice Reform (Scotland) Bill, which aims to put witnesses and victims of crime at the centre of the justice system and address challenges in the system’s approach to serious sexual offences.
- work to reduce court backlogs built up during the COVID-19 pandemic
- the creation of Bairns’ Hoose test sites to ensure a range of trauma-informed support is available to child victims and witnesses of abuse and harm
- publication of the first Violence Prevention Framework for Scotland
- the introduction of the Police (Ethics, Conduct and Scrutiny) (Scotland) Bill to improve transparency and strengthen public confidence in policing.
The Three Year Delivery Plan was prepared in consultation with justice partners and approved by the Justice Board, which represents key justice organisations.
A Measurement Framework which sets out how each of the outcomes in the Vision for Justice will be measured and reported has also been published.
The actions in the Delivery Plan align with the work required to meet the commitments set out in the 2023-24 Programme for Government and the Mandate Letter published in September.