The Law Society of Scotland has written to MSPs to express concerns about aspects of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Bill prior the stage 3 debate to take place today, Wednesday, 30 June 2010 at Holyrood.
The Society has been actively involved with the Scottish Parliament as the bill has progressed, having submitted both oral and written evidence, proposed amendments and submitted a stage 3 letter to all MSPs in advance of the stage 3 debate.
The Society remains concerned by what is meant by ‘consistency in sentencing practice’ as referred to in section 4 of the bill regarding the objectives of the new Scottish Sentencing Council and believes that ‘consistency’ should be distinguished from ‘uniformity’ in order to allow judicial independence to remain.
The Society has welcomed the proposal to raise the age of prosecution of children to 12 years old, but believes that a more appropriate measure would be simply to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 12, referring children between 8 and 11 to children's hearings on non-offence based grounds
With regard to disclosure of evidence by the prosecution, the Society is also concerned that a defence statement should not be compulsory in prosecutions under sheriff and jury (solemn) procedure
The Society also commented on significant new issues raised at stage 2 of the Bill which were not on the face of the bill when introduced into the Scottish Parliament. In particular, the Society believes that further Parliamentary scrutiny and debate is needed in order to consider an evidence base which points to minimum mandatory custodial sentences with regard to possession of knives being put in place in order to reduce knife crime.
With regard to control of lap dancing and other adult entertainment venues, the Society remains of the view that a stage 3 amendment could result in a double licensing system despite there already being extensive regulatory and enforcement powers available to Licensing Boards in terms of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005.
The Society has made significant comment and representation on the licensing aspects of the bill and in particular welcomes the Scottish Government amendment to reintroduce appeals by summary application in licensing appeals at Section 137A of the bill as amended.
1 July 2010
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:
Please contact Val McEwan on 0131 226 8884 / 07825 206468 or
Alan McCreadie on 0131 476 8188 if you have any queries