Scotland Can Be a Just Nation

Faodaidh Alba a bhidh laidir ann an ceartas

Scotland can be proud of progress that has been made to enhance equality, protect diversity and strengthen access to justice. However, we do not yet live in a country where everyone has equal access to security and opportunities. The Scottish Green Party stands for zero tolerance against all forms of discrimination. Tackling inequality in society, in terms of income and wealth, race, gender, disability, age, sexual orientation and religion, benefits all of us.

In order to reduce crime we must increase social justice in Scotland - inequality, poverty, homelessness and addiction are amongst the causes of offending. Green MSPs will focus on addressing these root causes of crime, tackling barriers to services, employment and participation in society, and defending access to justice for all as a fundamental human right.

When it comes to crime I am proud that Greens don't care about looking tough; instead in the coming election we'll be arguing for what is proven to genuinely reduce crime - accountable local policing, serious crime prevention, and constructive sentencing and rehabilitation. We must increase support for sustainable and long-term funding for violence against women support and advice services.

John Finnie MSP

Highlands and Islands
Justice, Transport & Tourism, Rural & Island Communities

Our commitments

  • Action For Equality

    Our Green MSPs will champion the Racial Equality Framework for Scotland, full equality before the law for LGBTI+ communities, a Strategy for Inclusion co-produced with disabled people, and a Gender Equality Bill.

  • Equality Budgeting

    We will push to improve equality impact assessment and budget analysis, which take stock of how decision-making impacts differently on groups protected under equality law. Equality concerns must be embedded in all resource allocation and policy.

  • Local Police

    We will work towards local policing that is accountable to independent, democratically controlled police authorities and investment in community policing to focus efforts on crime prevention.

Scotland can take action for equality and diversity:

  • Working with communities. The vast majority of Scotland’s population has poor access to resources, opportunities and security compared with those who are privileged and powerful. We will prioritise the goal of equality and work with those whose chances in life are reduced because of class, race, gender, disability, age, sexual orientation and religion or belief, to develop our plans for an equal Scotland.
  • Racial equality. Racial discrimination remains a crucial issue in Scotland, for UK-born individuals, as well as for refugees and first generation migrants. People from Scotland’s minority ethnic communities are significantly more likely to live in poverty, and employment and political representation rates are unacceptably low compared with white ethnic groups. Our MSPs will support full implementation the Racial Equality Framework for Scotland 2016-2030 in order to tackle pervasive racism across our society.
  • LGBTI+ equality. There must be equality before the law, regardless of gender, gender identity or sexual orientation. We will back the campaign to reform gender recognition law in line with international best practice. We will call for a government-led review of legislation and services to identify inequalities for LGBTI+ couples and for legislation to make Civil Partnerships open to all couples, on an equal basis with marriage.
  • Strategy for Inclusion. Disabled people still experience exclusion across social, economic and political life in Scotland, to the detriment of our society as a whole. We must work to break down the barriers that prevent disabled people from realising their rights. Scottish Greens will take a lead from disabled people’s organisations to promote a co-produced Strategy for Inclusion which works towards equal access to resources, fulfilling employment, public services, and participation in politics and public life.
  • Gender Equality Bill. Gender inequality is deeply entrenched in Scotland’s economy, politics and culture. Despite some progress, the rate of change is incredibly slow. As a result, diverse groups of women, including disabled women, refugee women, unpaid carers, older women and lone parents experience discrimination, poverty and insecurity. Green MSPs will support a Gender Equality Bill to drive progress against women’s inequality.

Scotland can put equality at the heart of public life:

  • Better equality outcomes. Scotland has the power to lead by example across the public sector. We will advocate for stronger Scottish regulations of the Public Sector Equality Duty and investment in the Equalities and Human Rights Commission in Scotland to improve equality outcomes across Scotland’s public bodies. Green MSPs will continue to push for the devolution of equalities law.
  • Diverse representation. Fair and diverse representation in public life is a matter of democracy and leads to better outcomes for everyone. We will encourage measures to increase the participation of all groups that are underrepresented in politics and public life, such as the introduction of 50% gender quotas for public boards. We back the One in Five and Women 50:50 campaigns.  
  • LGBTI+ duty. We support comprehensive action to tackle discrimination and inequality in employment and public services. We will support a legal duty on local authorities and public institutions to deliver effective services directly to the LGBTI+ community.

Scotland can create safer communities:

To make communities safer, we believe we have to tackle the root causes of crime. We don’t simply want to look tough on crime, but we want to address the causes by including the bigger picture including mental health, poverty, drug misuse etc. within our strategy for dealing with crime. That is why we support the restorative justice approaches and community based sentences including, where appropriate, reparation. 

  • Tackling violence. Too many women and men in Scotland are survivors of violence. We will push for increased support for the vital work undertaken by the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit and for a sustainable, long-term funding plan to resource violence against women services, including women’s aid groups and rape crisis centres. We will work to ensure provision of appropriate support services for LGBTI+ people who have been subject to domestic or sexual abuse.
  • Hate crime. Our Green MSPs will stand firm against hate crime and show leadership on tackling crimes motivated by prejudice based on race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. We will work to improve research, data collection and reporting processes.
  • Rights-based approach. We will call for more rights-based training for police and staff within the justice system on equality issues including hate crime, violence against women, trauma, and learning disabilities.
  • Sex work. We will advocate for the decriminalisation of sex work so sex workers can enjoy legal protection from exploitation, trafficking and violence and access to better support and healthcare

Scotland can reform Police Scotland

Whilst we did not advocate for a single police service for Scotland, believing that one size does not fit all when it comes to policing, the existing structure can effectively address strategic issues such as terrorism, human trafficking and cross-border crime. Nonetheless, a significant devolution of power and resources to local division level is required. We will champion local policing and investment in community policing.

  • Accountability. It is vital that robust checks and balances regulate the police force. Green MSPs will advocate for proportionate use of force; an evidenced need for any firearms deployment; a review of authorisation procedures and privacy protection mechanisms regarding surveillance powers; and a review of the Police Complaints Procedure, with a view to introducing greater independence from the Police.
  • Diversity. As with all of our democratic institutions, diversity in the police force is crucial. We will encourage greater diversity in personnel across all levels of the police force.

Scotland can reduce reoffending:

The current approach to sentencing does not work. Our prisons are overcrowded, and reoffending is a continuing problem, with very little progress being made towards the Scottish Government’s national indicator to reduce reconviction rates. Despite being a policy priority for a number of years, rates have fallen by less than one per cent in three years.We want a new approach to sentencing that is based on evidence, not rhetoric. 

  • Partnership working. Efforts to reduce the likelihood of reoffending will require that the complex needs of offenders and victims are addressed by a wide partnership of agencies and services working together. We will encourage greater use of diversion from prosecution schemes and programmes of meaningful activity for those given a custodial sentence.
  • Community sentencing. We will call for short prison sentences of less than twelve months to be abolished; increase the use of non-custodial sentences and educational disposals; provide robust rehabilitation programmes; and call for reform that ensures custodial sentences are only used for those who pose a threat to the public.

Scotland can ensure access to justice:

We believe that everyone in Scotland has a fundamental human right to access justice, it should not just be a privilege for those with adequate funds. We will ensure that the availability of legal aid isn’t a barrier to accessing justice. 

  • The right to justice. It is vital that everyone in Scotland is able to access justice as a fundamental human right. Our Green MSPs will work to ensure that geography and means are not barriers to accessing justice, and to enhance Legal Aid. We will support greater use of Alternative Dispute Resolutions mechanisms and Scotland’s full compliance with the Aarhus Convention on rights and access to justice on environmental law.
  • Violence against women. Access to justice for for survivors of gender based violence is undermined by a number of key issues. We will work to establish a right to independent legal representation for women who have experienced domestic abuse and rape and sexual assault; remove means testing for Protective Orders; abolish the not proven verdict in Scottish law; and implement medical examination guidelines.
  • Children. Green MSPs will support measures to strengthen protection for children from assault, including removal of the defence of ‘reasonable chastisement’.

Scotland can support people addicted to drugs:

  • Decriminalisation. We believe that the criminalisation of drug use creates more harm than managed and regulated supplies. It ties up much police time and decades of effort have failed to eradicate drug use from society. Green MSPs will support the decriminalisation of the cultivation and possession of cannabis for personal use, and decriminalisation of possession of drugs that grow wild in the UK.
  • Licensing, enforcement and treatment. We will support licensing for the supply of cannabis and propose that other currently illicit drugs required as part of a programme of treatment for addiction are supplied through pharmacist-run treatment centres. Enforcement of existing laws should prioritise targeting major illicit suppliers, and penalties should reflect accurate assessment of harm. And Green MSPs will advocate for increased investment in drug and alcohol treatment programmes.

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