Justice Matters ESSAYS ON IMPROVING SCOTLAND'S JUSTICE SYSTEM
Ruth Davidson MSP
Making better use of mediation to resolve disputes and manage difficult issues
John Sturrock QC
Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service in crisis
Margaret Mitchell MSP, Scottish Conservative Justice Spokesman
Corroboration, Scots criminal law and the Judiciary
Reforming Scots Law in the 21st Century
Michael P Clancy OBE, Director of Law Reform, the Law Society of Scotland
Time to Assess the Impact
Nancy Loucks, Chief Executive of Families Outside and Visiting Professor at the University of Strathclyde Centre for Law, Crime and Justice.
Tackling Drug Abuse in Scotland: A Record of Failure Not Success
Neil McKeganey Ph.D FRSA Director Centre For Drug Misuse Research Scotland
Current challenges in Scottish Family Law
Kenneth McK. Norrie, Professor of Law, University of Strathclyde
Putting apologies in their rightful place Prue Vines, Professor, Faculty of Law, University of New South Wales, Australia; Visiting Professor, Law School,University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland.
FOREWORD The Scottish Conservatives are a party of responsibility. We believe that people must take responsibility for the decisions they make and bear the consequences if they break the law. Freedom cannot exist without responsibility and respect for the rule of law. But if people are to respect the rule of law, then they deserve a justice system that itself earns their respect, and which upholds that rule properly and fairly. A functioning system must be properly resourced, and give all people full access to justice. An independent judiciar y should be at its heart. It should be robust no matter who is the government of the day. It must understand the reasons why people drift into lives of crime and tackle them. Those reasons range from unstable living conditions, economic disadvantage, peer pressure, to poor parental supervision. All these are deep rooted problems with no easy solutions. And a functioning justice system must also recognise that, no matter a person’s circumstances, ever yone has the capacity to make individual choices - to choose to commit crime, or to choose not to. Understanding the social circumstances that draw people into a life of crime must never be to excuse for crime, or to relieve those responsible for crime of the consequences of their actions.
This short pamphlet of essays provides insight from lawyers, academics, politicians and other experts on how we improve that justice system. Lord McCluskey, the former Solicitor General, writes about the dangers of ending corroboration in Scots law, a cause close to the Conservatives’ heart. His warning that “the rush to legislate does not solve all problems” is one many should heed. Others write about the need for more mediation, on the need to suppor t children whose parents are caught up in a life of crime, and on how simply encouraging people to say sorry might help heal the damage caused to society by criminal acts. Margaret Mitchell, the Scottish Conser vative justice spokeswoman, meanwhile, writes persuasively about the crisis facing the Crown Office and the Procurator Fiscal Service, and how the advent of a majority SNP Government at Holyrood has prevented the kind of checks and balances that lead to good governance and better decisions taken on law. Aside from Margaret’s contribution - and as with our book last year on education all the other contributors come from outwith the Conservative party and they do not speak for the Conservative party. Some, indeed, will no doubt be opposed to Conservative policies and viewpoints. This