By a Newsnet reporter

A new analysis has laid bare the difference in priorities between Westminster and Holyrood, with spending on criminal justice in Scotland increasing, despite a sharp fall in equivalent spending south of the border.

The new publication from the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies show that while spending on criminal justice in England and Wales fell by 12% between 2009/10 and 2011/12, such spending in Scotland rose by 4% in the same period. Meanwhile police officer numbers south of the border fell by 7% while in Scotland the additional 1,000 police officers delivered by the SNP were maintained.

There was a similar story in prisons, with prison staff in England and Wales falling by 11% while in Scotland staff numbers increased by 3%.

Total public sector spending on all government services fell by 1.4 per cent in the same period, showing that the criminal justice system was bearing the brunt of the UK government's austerity cuts.

The UK Justice Policy Review also reveals the growing role played by private sector providers in the criminal justice system.  The UK government coalition paid five major contractors over £440m for public order services between May 2011 and April 2012.

The biggest recipient was ATOS, who were paid £151m, mainly for IT support supplied to the Ministry of Justice, NOMS and the Courts and Tribunals Service.  ATOS also has a number of other important government contracts, including its controversial running of the assessments for disability benefits.

Serco provided prisoner escorting, as well as electronic monitoring, resettlement services and the running of HMP Doncaster, receiving £113m that year.  Geo Amey received £54m for electronic monitoring and prisoner escorting; A4E £5m for resettlement work and payments and support services; G4S were paid £118m for operating HMP Wolds, HMP Birmingham and for running prisoner custody and escort services.

One of the authors of the UK Justice Policy Review report, Richard Garside, director of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, said:

"After several years of plenty for the criminal justice system under Labour, the coalition is intent on delivering several years of relative famine."

Commenting, SNP MSP Sandra White who sits on the Justice Committee said:

“This new analysis makes clear the fundamental difference in approach between Westminster and the Scottish Government when it comes to justice.

“While Westminster is putting communities at risk by launching an unprecedented attack on police pay and conditions and officer numbers are tumbling, in Scotland we have made absolutely clear our determination to stand by our police officers.

“Having delivered on our pledge to recruit more than 1,000 additional police officers to protect our communities, crime in Scotland is at a 37 year low. That is why the SNP will continue to maintain police numbers and will not undermine police morale by introducing the disastrous Winsor reforms taking place south of the border.

“This really is a tale of two governments, with Westminster seemingly happy to jeopardise the safety of people across England and Wales in pursuit of the Tories’ austerity agenda.

“It is not a path Scotland will go down and our track record in this area is a clear example of the kind of positive decisions we can make when Scotland has full control of a policy. With the powers of an independent Scotland we can build upon this track record in other areas and ensure that every decision in Scotland reflects the priorities of people living here.”



Comments  

 
# Welsh Sion 2013-03-12 11:45
The criminal justice system in Wales is of course not yet devolved, but there are significant signs that things are starting to develop in that area.

Leading academics, judges and lawyers, including the First Minister Carwyn Jones (a QC) and Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood (a former Probation Officer) are encouraging this trend.

Further, after the Welsh language became legally official (Feb. 2011) I have regularly been translating (English) Ministry of Justice documents regarding all matters of a judicial nature. And of course, our National Assembly is a bilingual legislature.

Much still to do - but interesting times!
 
 
# From The Suburbs 2013-03-12 15:59
And since 1999 some £350 million pounds in Scottish court fines have gone straight to the Treasury in London.

We spend money on 1000 extra police so more criminals are caught but Westminster gets the benefit.
 
 
# call me dave 2013-03-12 16:29
I was surprised to hear that a few months back and thought it unfair at the time.
£350M could have built a few houses that.

How come we Scots can sequestrate illegal drug profits but don't get the run of the mill fines?

Roll on 2014.
 
 
# Jamie Black 2013-03-12 16:14
Would this be the same Scottish Government who are determined to remove one of the pillars of Scottish Justice that is Corroboration?

Is this the same Scottish Government who is wreaking havoc with the changes to Legal Aid that help no-one?

Is this the same Scottish Government who are sneaking in changes under the radar which are fundamentally underminung Scottish Justice? I think it is.
 
 
# jurist 2013-03-12 23:50
I have to agree. McKaskill is bad news for the Scottish criminal justice system. His approach seems to be that of grandstanding for the public on apparently populist issues by surrendering any kind of principled position to the, sometimes hysterical, views of various pressure groups.

One feels at times that his agenda is to get to where an accusation will be enough, followed by prison. Don't let an inconvenient little thing like lack of evidence get in the way of a good conviction.
 

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