Jail term proposals watered down

Jail Ministers want to cut re-offending through non-custodial sentences

Related Stories

Scottish ministers have watered down key plans to discourage jail sentences of six months or less in order to win enough backing for its justice reforms.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said he now wants a presumption against three-month terms or less when sheriffs are sentencing criminals.

The government hopes the compromise will win Lib Dem support as part of the Criminal Justice and Licensing Bill.

Labour described the move as a "monumental admission of defeat".

The presumption against six-month sentences was ditched from the bill earlier this year in a Holyrood committee vote, although ministers had intended to reintroduce it.

'Flagship plan'

Mr MacAskill said the latest proposals would involve tougher, community-based punishments, adding: "This is a proposal which has the best chance of gaining wide parliamentary support, and also has built-in flexibility allowing parliament to increase the presumption from three months at a later date.

"This is a significant improvement upon the current system, which will allow us to take action to reduce crime even further in Scotland's communities."

Government plans to end short jail terms and boost non-custodial sentences are key to its strategy on cutting re-offending.

But Labour said more than 6,000 people were last year jailed for three months or less for offences including serious assaults.

The party's justice spokesman, Richard Baker, said: "This is a monumental admission of defeat from the SNP and is a clear indication that their flagship plan to free thousands of criminals is reckless and unfunded.

"Under these plans, almost 7,000 criminals will walk free."

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Scotland stories


Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • TravelAround the world

    BBC Travel takes a look at the most striking images from the past seven days


  • BatteriesClick Watch

    More power to your phone - the lithium-ion batteries that could last twice as long

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.