Gender inequality and improving women’s experiences within the justice system will be addressed by a new Scottish Government panel.
Members will examine the experiences of women as both victims and offenders in a range of settings including policing, community justice, criminal and civil courts, tribunals and prisons.
The Women’s Justice Leadership Panel, which met for the first time on Wednesday, is chaired by Community Safety Minister Ash Regan MSP.
Membership includes Solicitor General Ruth Charteris QC, academics and representatives from the Scottish Prison Service, Police Scotland, Community Justice Scotland, the Scottish Women’s Rights Centre and the Centre for Women’s Justice.
Key issues for the panel include:
How women experience the Scottish justice system differently from men, in what ways their needs are not being met and how it impacts on them;
International and UK examples where women’s needs are more appropriately met; and
How to address under-representation of women in senior leadership roles and how this impacts on the culture in justice organisations.
Ms Regan said:
“The Scottish justice system needs to evolve to ensure it serves the needs of women. For example, issues like the impact of caring responsibilities on women or the blurred line between victimisation and offender status are issues which could be understood better.
“Some significant improvements have been made, but often changes are piecemeal and do not provide the fundamental reform needed to embed women’s rights.
Kenneth Gibson MSP added:
“Women who end up in the justice system often come from a position of vulnerability.
“We must make sure the way the justice system treats women is appropriate to help them rehabilitate.
“In order to do that, the Panel will gather and assess evidence to demonstrate how the experience of the justice system differs depending on gender ,and promote a consistent understanding of the impact this has on women.
“This will help us deliver better outcomes for women and reflect expectations of the fair and effective justice system we want.”
A Scottish Government review of existing statistical evidence on women’s experience of the justice system to support the work of the panel has been published.