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Scottish Green Party 2011

Source: Scottish Green Party manifesto 2011

Promoting justice and crime prevention

Greens believe a new approach to justice is required, that prioritises restorative justice and prevention as key to making Scotland’s communities safer places to live.

Communities have the right to live in safety, but simply talking tough, as successive governments have, not only fails to change offenders’ lives for the better; it also increases the fear of crime out of proportion to the real scale of the problem. There is another way.

The Scottish Green Party recognises that long term measures are needed to reduce crime. Punishment should be used to challenge and change harmful behaviour, not just as retribution. Our over-stretched prison system is too often unable to spend the time and attention needed to cut reoffending levels. Many women and men in prison have mental health problems; we need a justice system that distinguishes between people who cause problems and people who have problems and respond appropriately to both.

Restoring communities, preventing crime

Greens will move our justice system beyond the failed, but fashionable, ‘tough on crime’ rhetoric that other politicians have been so relentless to pursue. We’ll put mediation and restorative justice at the heart of the system to ensure that offenders give something back to the community and come to see the impact of their crime.

By letting prisons focus on the serious offenders who pose a real threat, we’ll have more chance of changing criminal behaviour.

We’ll focus on crime prevention, instead of pretending that a minimum sentence will solve every problem. We’ll respect the independence of the judicial system so that each offender is given a sentence that relates to their actions and their circumstances. We’ll continue to support a presumption against very short sentences. Keeping serious criminals inside for a few weeks or months does nothing to reduce the real threat they pose to the public, while minor offenders should be giving something back to their communities, instead of sitting idle in a cell.

We’ll oppose the privatisation of Scotland’s prison estate. Prisons should be completely focused on protecting the public and turning around the lives of prisoners and their families, not on returning a profit for shareholders.

We’ll work to provide high quality victim support services, but we’ll also support children and families of prisoners to make sure they don’t pay the price for offences they didn’t commit.

We’ll oppose moves to create a single police force for Scotland. Policing works best at a local level, and we’ll prioritise the funding for community policing. We’ll oppose moves to create a more fully armed police force, and we’ll ensure that electroshock weapons like Tasers are treated with the same seriousness as firearms.

We’ll increase the focus on corporate crime, which is too often seen as less serious than other forms of criminality.

Build on our record of tackling hate crime

Crimes based on prejudice, like sectarianism, racism, homophobia, and misogyny are all unacceptable. Unfortunately, these prejudices still blight many communities throughout Scotland. Green MSPs were proud to pass legislation on Hate Crimes in the last parliamentary session so the law included hatred based on disability, sexual orientation and transgender identity. This was a significant step in the right direction, but more progress must be made to tackle these crimes.

We’ll prioritise tackling these problems and the crimes they give rise to through our restorative approach to justice. Restorative practices have a huge role to play in addressing and challenging prejudiced attitudes that underpin crime. We believe more support is needed for those affected by these crimes, and to those who are responsible for the harm so that they can move beyond this unacceptable behaviour to the benefit of the whole community.

We’ll monitor the implementation of recent sexual offences legislation, in particular to ensure that historically low levels of rape conviction are improved. However, greater emphasis is still needed on challenging the attitudes that lead to male sexual violence.

Protect the individual

We’ll adopt clear principles on liberty and privacy. This means we will defend the right to peaceful public protest as a vital part of democratic change, and if necessary will legislate to protect peaceful protesters from heavy handed tactics such as kettling, bribery and intimidation, or undercover surveillance.

The Scottish Green Party recognises that human rights are everyone’s rights. We’ll support the development of an action plan on human rights, and we’ll complement this with more coherent Parliamentary scrutiny of human rights issues.

We believe that costly legal actions for compensation arise when Government ignores basic human rights. We’ll avoid this, for example by giving guidance to courts on the grounds for suspending an offender’s right to vote in specific circumstances. The current blanket ban should be ended, and the right to vote should be seen as a milestone in a prisoner’s rehabilitation.

Greening Scotland’s justice system

Scottish Greens believe that Scotland’s justice system can no longer ignore the significance of environmental justice. We’ll fully implement the Aarhus Convention, to ensure access to environmental justice with a funded system of environmental and land courts to complement a more rigorous approach to environmental crime.

We also see the need to modernise environmental regulation and fines, to ensure that the rules are clear, but that breaches are taken seriously, with fines which cover restoration of damage, the costs of environmental policing, as well as punishment for corporate polluters and recovery of the proceeds of environmental crime.

The land reform agenda has stalled. We will give fresh impetus to this area of policy through the new Common Good Act and a Land Rights Law Centre to help communities assert their rights. We’ll consult on proposals to bring the administration and revenues of the Crown Estate under local democratic control.”