Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has today called on the Scottish Government to ensure community-based sentences are properly funding in island communities.
Following the Scottish Government’s welcome decision to extend the presumption against ineffective short-term prison sentences from three to twelve months, Mr McArthur has argued that this requires a commitment to properly fund robust, community-based measures that can reduce reoffending.
Speaking at Portfolio Questions today, Mr McArthur repeated this argument but highlighted that those sorts of services, inevitably, can prove more costly to deliver in an island setting.
Orkney’s MSP went on to urge the Justice Secretary to ensure that funding would take “proper account of this and the need to fund small, proportionate community based services on a year on year, ring fenced basis.”
Responding, the Justice Secretary confirmed that the redistribution funding formula for community sentences does have a “rurality weighting in it”.
Following the exchange in the chamber, Mr McArthur said:
"Having campaigned for years to see ineffective short term prison sentences replaced by robust community-based measures, I welcome the Scottish Government’s recognition at last that this is in the best interests of both offenders and communities.
“To be effective, however, this move must be coupled with adequate new resources for community options. This is particularly true in an island setting, where delivery of such measures invariably proves more costly.
“The Justice Secretary indicated that the funding formula for community sentences does include a ‘rurality weighting’. While this is welcome, I will be seeking further assurances from the Justice Secretary and the views of local stakeholders to ensure this policy is indeed properly ‘island proofed’.