The Scottish Prisons Commission: Ten Years On


In July 2008 The Scottish Prisons Commission (also known as the McLeish Commission) published its report Scotland’s Choice. This report culminated an eight month investigation of how Scotland uses prison and the range of factors that drive this, from inequality in society to arrest and sentencing practices. The report contained 23 recommendations covering an almost unprecedented range of criminal justice issues from community sentences to young people, from the purposes of punishment to decisions about parole and release. Perhaps most remarkably, it called outright for a reduction target to be set for the prison population, from nearly 8,000 to 5,000, a drop of nearly 38%, a pace of reduction that has never been seen in prison populations in the UK.

In the decade since the report was launched, most of the findings it contained have been accepted by the Scottish Government and many of its recommendations enacted. Given this, the present moment offers a useful opportunity to consider how the Commission’s work has informed and shaped the direction of justice in Scotland.

On 29th June 2018, SCCJR is hosting a ten year anniversary conference, bringing together members of Government, academia, practice and the voluntary sector. This conference, being held to mark the 10th anniversary of the Commission’s report, provides this moment for reflection, but equally important, creates an opportunity to look forward. How will justice work in Scotland ten years hence, in 2028? What do we want it to look like, and what challenges and resources will present themselves along the way?

A briefing paper is available to download and this will be developed, following the conference into a full report on the state of imprisnoment in Scotland.