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Continuing reform of the justice system
The benefits of a number of key recent reforms to Scotland's criminal justice system are now being felt, but work will continue to make the system as efficient as possible, Kenny MacAskill said today.
The Justice Secretary was responding to Audit Scotland's 'Overview of Scotland's Criminal Justice System' report, which points to improvements such as better processing time for summary cases and improved joint working across justice organisations while identifying the need for further reform to deliver operational efficiencies and better support to victims.
Commenting on the report, Mr MacAskill said:
"This report recognises that good progress has been made and while I welcome that, I am clear that our work continues to build a stronger and more efficient criminal justice system to deal with offenders and better support victims of crime.
"Scotland has a good story to tell in many instances with recorded crime down, knife crime down, 1,000 extra police on our streets and serious criminals now being punished through the longest prison sentences in a decade.
"My commitment to improving the experience of victims within the system is absolute and as such we are now seeing record funding for victims and witnesses of over £5.6 million in 2010-11. I will also introduce a victims' rights Bill during this Parliament to improve support and access to compensation and address many of the issues raised in the report.
"Reducing reoffending is a priority for this government and official statistics published only last week - and after the Audit Scotland work was carried out - show that the two year reconviction rate in Scotland has dropped to its lowest level in 11 years. This is a significant achievement and I want to continue that positive work by reducing Scotland's reoffending rate even further.
"The Audit Scotland report shows that the length of time taken to process summary cases has improved. Summary justice reform has been a major step forward in improving performance, and a shining example of the better joint working that is now happening across the justice system. But we have to go further to tackle the remaining inefficiencies within the system.
"I established the multi-agency Making Justice Work Programme which is expected to deliver savings of up to £14 million next year and much greater savings and performance improvements will follow over its four year lifespan. This will help justice organisations live within tighter budgets and provide better value for public money. It will also pave the way for a more strategic approach in areas such as IT co-ordination and performance information, building a criminal justice system fit for the 21st century."