Criminal justice

Prisoners Week

Prisoners Week, which is an initiative of the Churches in Scotland, aims to stimulate discussion, highlight concerns and share hope, in prisons and communities across Scotland. It offers an opportunity to see others - and perhaps also ourselves - differently. Setting aside labels, categories, fronts and masks, there's a chance to see people as people. Perhaps such things are a part of the journey towards safer communities and more fulfilled lives? Visit the Prisoners Week website for further information and resources on how to mark Prisoners Week in your congregation.


Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill

The Scottish Government has proposed new legislation to tackle sectarianism and religious hatred. The Church of Scotland was invited to give oral evidence to the Justice Committee in June 2011.

Poetry to Challenge Sectarianism from Parkhill Secondary School, Glasgow

These 10 poems were entered into the Stevenson Prize Competition, 2012, and can be used to reflect on problems and solutions surrounding the issue of sectarianism.

Download the leaflet: 'What's the score?'

Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Bill

The Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Bill passed Stage 3 of the parliamentary process on 30 June 2010. The Bill as first introduced included a number of recommendations made by the Scottish Prisons Commission, one of which was a presumption against short sentences of imprisonment of six months or less, preferring instead community-based sentences. A letter to MSPs from the Moderator was quoted in the debate, stating, "All the available evidence affirms that short periods of imprisonment do not work."

Sentencing for knife crime

The Church responded to the Justice Committee below.

Scotland's Choice: Discussion Starter on the Prisons Commission Report

The way imprisonment is used in Scotland is not working. Nearly 1 in 6 of prisoners have been to prison on more than 10 previous occasions. This document is a short summary of the Prisons Commission Report and includes discussion questions for presbyteries, kirk sessions and congregations.

Alternatives to custody

Prisons are bulging, despite crime falling, yet no-one seems able to break the cycle that sees more and more Scots imprisoned. Does the church have any answers? A report on alternatives to custody was made to the General Assembly in 2007.

Death Penalty

The Church of Scotland affirms that capital punishment is always and wholly unacceptable and does not provide an answer even to the most heinous of crimes. It commits itself to working with other churches and agencies to advance this understanding, oppose death sentences and executions and promote the cause of abolition of the death penalty worldwide. A report was made to the 2008 General Assembly setting out the Biblical, theological and ethical arguments surrounding the death penalty.

Supporting Families Affected by Prison: Resources for Congregations

The following free resources could be used to help individuals, groups and congregations to explore the issue of families affected by prison and become involved in practical support.

'More than a Number', a short (12 minute) film encouraging support for families affected by prison and advertising Prisoners' Week, is available to watch and download by following this link:

The following free resources could be used to help individuals, groups and congregations to explore this issue further and become involved in practical support.

What Can I Do?

'What can I do?' is the title of a booklet by the Joint Faiths Advisory Board on Criminal Justice and General Meeting of Quakers in Scotland which gives you lots of information about how you can volunteer to support prisoners, ex-offenders and their families. It includes information about befriending, play work, helping in prison visitor centres and much more.