The criminal law committee responded to two consultations in December. The Consultation on Prostitution Law Reform (Scotland) Bill proposes to decriminalise activities associated with the buying and selling of sexual services and to strengthen the laws against coercion in the sex industry, advocating the New Zealand model: a set of laws and policies which prioritise the safety, rights and health of people currently selling sex. We are not in a position to comment on the policy aims of the Bill, however we make reference to s46 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982, and believe that reform in this particular area of law is required.
We also responded to the Scottish Government consultation on Proposals to strengthen the presumption against short periods of Imprisonment. In our response we state that we do not believe that a sentence of less than 12 months affords any possibility of meaningful work designed within the prison system to reduce reoffending or to learn new skills. The purpose of a sentence of this period can only be that of retribution and confinement. We suggest that were the presumption against custody to be fixed at six months, it may ensure that the worst and most recurrent summary offenders will still be aware that they face a period of imprisonment, while rendering it less likely than those who are merely a public nuisance face repeated incarceration.
Full responses to both of the above can be found on our website