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Scottish Liberal Democrats 2011

Scottish Liberal Democrats’ manifesto

So to solve the problems facing public services and make them serve local needs, we will:

  • Keep our communities safe with local policing, against attempts to create a single national police force that will drain resources and accountability from Scotland’s local communities.
  • Cut crime by making offenders pay back the people and communities they have harmed: solutions that have been proven to work, not populist punishments that drive crime up.

Work with the Sentencing Council to encourage more widespread use of Drug Treatment and Testing Orders and alcohol treatment requirements within Community Payback Orders, intervening to catch people with substance misuse problems before they descend into a life of crime. We will ensure that offenders are encouraged to seek treatment and recovery at every opportunity in their contact with the criminal justice system.

We will continue to support tough sentencing for drug dealers.

Improve education and rehabilitation services in prisons so that offenders have a chance at a fresh start when they are released. We will pilot prison wing-based, abstinence focused drug-recovery services in prisons and
encourage offenders who have recovered from substance abuse problems to become mentors for their peers.
We will explore the potential of new technologies to disrupt drugs from entering and being traded within prisons
and increase the number of drug-free wings, where increased security measures prevent access to drugs.

Crime Reduction Action Plan

We will protect victims and support communities by focusing on what works to cut crime.
We will keep communities safe with a strong visible police presence.
We will keep policing local. Now is the right time for the police and communities to work more closely together to tackle local problems. We will engage the whole community in the fight against crime and anti-social behaviour. We will build stronger partnerships between the police and local communities with new legislation to require local police to report on crime and enforcement in their areas and to consult on priorities.

Our new Police Bill will make sure police structures meet modern needs. We will make sure that the police are
accountable to local people rather than just to government ministers. The bill will ensure that policing priorities are those of local communities, not central civil servants. We oppose moves to abolish local police forces and create a single National Force, a step that will cost millions and disrupt the work against crime.

We will retain the budget for police numbers for the coming parliament. We support the use of civilian staff for backroom and support functions and will trust chief constables to deploy their staff in ways that cut crime and maintain frontline police numbers.

We will make offenders move away from a life of crime through tough punishments which make them pay back to the community for the harm they have caused, combined with action to tackle their offending behaviour.

We want reformed prisons, with a greater emphasis on preventing re-offending. The voluntary sector will be involved earlier in prisons, accountable for longer after a prisoner is released and rewarded for success in preventing re-offending. We want public money spent on success, not failure.

We will tackle knife crime which overshadows many communities by tackling gang culture and building on the strong anti-violence work in Strathclyde that has cut crime by more than 46 per cent. We recognise that 90 per cent of people jailed for knife crime have already been in prison. It isn’t a deterrent to them. We need solutions that last.

The Crime Reduction Plan will:

  • Bring forward a Police Act to improve community involvement in policing, strengthen local police authorities and free policing from unnecessary national political interference.
  • Give local communities a right to hear from their local police and to influence the policing of their areas, requiring police forces to produce comprehensive community engagement plans.
  • Make sure that the public get maximum value and service from blue light services with a comprehensive review. We will consider co-location and shared services but oppose centralisation of police or fire and rescue. Shared blue light control rooms that serve remote areas will be examined as an alternative to further centralisation and closure.
  • Follow the advice of ACPOS in giving forces flexibility in the way they deploy resources to maintain frontline policing.
  • Give local people access to regular updates on crime in their community and the action being taken to tackle it, working with police forces to publish online beat level crime statistics.

We will do all we can to end the revolving door of offending and re-offending that causes so much crime. We will
promote effective punishments that work to cut crime.
To reform prisons and cut re-offending, we will:

  • Bring into force the legislation to end automatic early release.
  • Establish community justice panels as an alternative to court action to divert minor offenders from re-offending and anti-social behaviour by carrying out constructive community work. Such panels already work successfully in parts of England and achieve 96 per cent satisfaction from victims. These will be restorative justice panels for those who accept their guilt, saving police and court time.
  • Strengthen the amount of regular, structured hours of education and paid work that take place in prisons to create working prisons, investing increased profits in education and rehabilitation of prisoners.
  • Increase efforts to rid prisons of drugs by piloting wing-based, abstinence focused, drug recovery services in prisons for adults, encouraging more offenders who have recovered from drug and alcohol problems to become mentors, exploring the potential of new technologies to disrupt drugs from entering and being traded within prisons and increase the number of drug-free wings, where increased security measures prevent access to drugs.


  • Move towards the establishment of a custody and rehabilitation service from the current structure of the Scottish Prison Service. This will bring more involvement from the community and voluntary sectors for rehabilitation work within and outside prison.


  • Start a new approach to stop re-offending by allowing the voluntary sector to fund programmes with offenders, starting inside prison and accountable for two years after release. The partners will be paid by their success and this approach will encourage innovative new approaches to preventing crime by previous offenders.


  • Increase mentoring on release from ex-offenders, especially offering young offenders the opportunity to be ‘met at the gate’ on release.
  • Help young people receive intensive fostering as an alternative to longer custodial sentences, with appropriate specialist mental health, drug and alcohol treatment as a more effective alternative to custody.
  • Help offenders eligible for entry onto the UK Government’s Work Programme to improve their chances of finding work after their sentence.

Violent crime will be tackled firmly, but we will deliver what works, not just what sounds good. We will help to develop the many examples where a real impact has been made by innovative solutions that have been proven to last.
To tackle violent crime with action that works, not just sounds good, we will:

  • Support the Strathclyde ‘No Knives Better Lives’ programme which has reduced knife crime by a third and which works with those who have been found with knives or at risk of carrying a knife.


  • Tackle gang culture as a route to reducing knife crime through supporting the development of targeted intervention strategies, like those used in the Violence Reduction Unit’s Community Initiative to Reduce Violence in Glasgow which has seen violence drop by almost half in 18 months.


  • Encourage use of the Cardiff model to make hospitals share non-confidential information with police so they know where gun and knife crime is happening and when and can target it.

To promote safer communities, we will:

  • Pilot Vandalism Action Areas. Where there is community demand we will require all public agencies and organisations such as Scotrail to combine to take a zero-tolerance approach to vandalism in an area.


  • Use creative measures to address offending behaviour and problematic social divisions and sectarianism in communities, such as sports leagues for communities, learning from the pilot in Easterhouse which reduced gang fighting by 73 per cent.


  • Support early intervention work to divert young people at risk of offending.


  • Provide resources for Community Payback Orders, including an annual report back to communities.

To take forward reforms to help victims, we will:

  • Reduce the amount of time it takes to enact summary justice.


  • Provide new victim support measures, funded through prisoners’ earnings, including steps towards higher and more consistent standards.


  • Change the rules to make sure that victims receive compensation immediately after it is awarded, with the state responsible for recovery from the offender rather than the victim.


  • Widen the victim notification scheme to notify victims when the offender is eligible for release from prison or is unlawfully at large.
  • Continue to focus on domestic abuse and fund services such as rape crisis centres.