Issues guide: Crime and Justice

Scotland has its own, distinct legal and justice system and as such Holyrood has powers to oversee and legislate on police, prisons, the court system, civil and criminal law.

It also controls youth justice and sentencing, legal aid and oversight of the legal profession. The Scottish government has its own law officers - the lord advocate and solicitor general. Here, BBC news online Scotland outlines the crime and justice policies of the SNP, Scottish Labour, the Scottish Conservatives, the Scottish Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Greens.

Election issues 2011

Crime and Justice

Scottish National Party



Liberal Democrats


  • Maintain police numbers, including 1,000 extra officers delivered in last parliament.
  • Cut number of police forces, currently at eight and move to single, national fire and rescue service.
  • Tackle knife crime through increased stop-and-search policy and roll out No Knives, Better Lives scheme.
  • Maintain Community Payback Orders so offenders repay debt to society "through hard labour".
  • Introduce Victims Rights Bill, enshrining right to compensation.
  • Expand the Proceeds of Crime Act so more cash seized from criminals can be re-invested in youth projects.
  • Six-month mandatory minimum jail sentences for knife-carrying.
  • Put victims first with Victims' Commissioner and charter of rights.
  • Protect police officer numbers.
  • Create single, national police force and single fire service.
  • Repeal "dangerous" plans to scrap the use of short prison sentences.
  • Pilot the use of GPS satellite tracking technology for serious sex offenders on release from prison.
  • End automatic early release from prison
  • Maintain the 1,000 extra police delivered in last parliament.
  • Compulsory drug tests for prisoners, screening of prison visitors and drug free wings
  • Tougher community sentences and reintroduction of short jail terms.
  • Move to single police force and elect local police commissioners to listen to resident views.
  • Nationwide knife amnesty and reforms to "reflect" public expectation to jail knife carriers.
  • Oppose single police force and fire and rescue service.
  • Set up custody and rehabilitation service from the current structure of the Scottish Prison Service.
  • Maintain police officer numbers.
  • Reform prisons, with greater emphasis on preventing re-offending and involve voluntary sector.
  • Tackle knife crime by tackling gang culture with intervention strategies.
  • Ensure victims receive compensation immediately after it is awarded, with the state responsible for recovery from the offender.
  • Focus on crime prevention
  • Put mediation and restorative justice at the heart of the system.
  • Presumption against very short sentences.
  • Oppose further privatisation of Scotland's prison estate.
  • Oppose single police force for Scotland.
  • Consider laws protecting peaceful protesters from "heavy-handed tactics" such as kettling, bribery and intimidation, or undercover surveillance.

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