Scottish Government
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Blueprint to reform criminal law

A major review which offers a considered examination on the future of Scots law and practice following the UK Supreme Court's Cadder ruling last year and the impact of recent legislation on criminal procedure was published yesterday.

Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill welcomed the report by High Court Judge Lord Carloway which sets the scene for meaningful reform of the criminal justice system. Key recommendations include:

  • The right to legal advice when taken into custody
  • Limit the period of arrest before charge to 12 hours
  • Particular protection and rights for children and vulnerable adults
  • Greater powers for police to conduct structured investigations
  • Less restrictive rules around evidence and a removal of the need for corroboration
  • Adjustments to the relationship between the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) and the High Court

Mr MacAskill said:

"I am grateful to Lord Carloway for this weighty and authoritative review which takes a long-term view on our criminal justice system and how it can be reformed and improved for Scottish citizens.

"Following the UK Supreme Court's ruling on the Cadder case last year, we immediately passed emergency legislation to protect the victims of crime and make sure our police could continue to investigate crime effectively. In addition to the emergency legislation, the Lord Advocate also acted early to protect live cases ahead of the Cadder ruling.

"We continue to work closely with our criminal justice partners to ensure that Scotland has a modern robust justice system fit for the 21st century. I am grateful for the committed engagement of police, prosecutors and defence agents in implementing the necessary changes to date.

"The Carloway Review builds upon the actions we took last October and will frame longer term reform. The recommendations are far reaching and, while respectful to traditional systems that have served us well over centuries, seek to reshape and respond to present-day obligations and expectations.

"The Carloway Review is very welcome; it gives us considered advice on how we ensure our justice system continues to cope with unprecedented pressures and offers long lasting solutions to some of the challenges we face. I look forward to considering these significant recommendations in detail as a basis of making further and wide reaching improvements to Scotland's distinct justice system."

The Review started in November 2010 as a part of the Government's response to the Cadder decision on the right of suspects to receive advice from a lawyer before police questioning. Lord Carloway's consultation ran 8 April - 3 June 2011.

The Terms of Reference for the Carloway Review are as follows:

(a) To review the law and practice of questioning suspects in a criminal investigation in Scotland in light of recent decisions by the UK Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights, and with reference to law and practice in other jurisdictions;

(b) To consider the implications of the recent decisions, in particular the legal advice prior to and during police questioning, and other developments in the operation of detention of suspects since it was introduced in Scotland in 1980 on the effective investigation and prosecution of crime.

(c) To consider the criminal law of evidence, insofar as there are implications arising from (b) above, in particular the requirement for corroboration and the suspect's right to silence;

(d) To consider the extent to which issues raised during the passage of the Criminal Procedures (Legal Assistance, Detention and Appeals)(Scotland Act) 2010 may need further consideration, and the extent to which the provisions of the Act may need amendment or replacement; and

(e) To make recommendations for further changes to the law and to identify where further guidance is needed, recognising the rights of the suspect, the rights of victims and witnesses and the wider interests of justice while maintaining an efficient and effective system for the investigation and prosecution of crime.

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