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by Staff reporter
12 July 2023
Withdraw ‘soft touch’ sentencing guidelines, Scottish Tories say

Russell Findlay became the Conservative justice spokesperson in the party's reshuffle last month

Withdraw ‘soft touch’ sentencing guidelines, Scottish Tories say

The Scottish Conservatives have called on the Scottish Government to scrap sentencing guidelines which see those aged under 25 handed lighter sentences.

The guidelines, introduced by the Scottish Sentencing Council last year, recommend that custodial sentences should only be handed out to young people as a last resort.

It says this is due to brain maturity and a greater capacity to change compared to those over 25.

But the guidelines have caused controversy in recent months, with a handful of offenders given lenient sentences.

One was convicted rapist Sean Hogg, who was given community service as he was 17 at the time of the crime.

The Conservatives previously called for a review of the guidelines, but have now said they must be withdrawn.

The party put in a Freedom of Information request uncovering public anger towards Scottish ministers after the case of Hogg. It has now published excerpts from emails to First Minister Humza Yousaf and Justice Secretary Angela Constance.

Justice spokesperson Russell Findlay said: “Hopefully these emails will have served as a reality check for Humza Yousaf and help to challenge the SNP's relentless and reckless pursuit of a soft-touch justice system.

“They need to listen to the public and scrap these guidelines. Law-abiding Scots who suffer at the hands of dangerous young offenders have had enough and only the Scottish Conservatives remain committed to putting the rights of victims at the heart of our justice system.”

The First Minister has previously refused to intervene on the guidelines, adding they were determined by the independent Scottish Sentencing Council.

He told reporters in April: “It is for the judiciary to make a determination on sentencing and it is for the Crown to independently make a decision about whether to challenge that as being unduly lenient or not.”

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