Consultation on permanency of certain criminal justice measures from the Coronavirus Recovery and Reform (Scotland) Act 2022 and modernising criminal justice procedures through digital processes

Closed 12 Feb 2024

Opened 6 Nov 2023


Our Vision for Justice, published in February 2022, and the associated Three Year Delivery Plan, published in November 2023 sets out the Scottish Government’s transformative vision to deliver a just, safe resilient country. Delivering the vision requires fundamental change to the operation of our justice services, ensuring that our processes and laws meet the needs of people now and in the future.

This consultation is a key part of a far-reaching programme of work already underway and takes forward our Programme for Government 2022-23 commitment to modernise justice processes through greater use of digital processes. It also delivers on our priorities for justice as outlined in Equality, opportunity, community: New leadership - A fresh start.

The primary proposals in this consultation are to make permanent those of the temporary justice measures in the Coronavirus Recovery and Reform (Scotland) Act 2022, which can deliver significant longer term benefits and provide a basis for the future resilience, effectiveness and efficiency of the criminal justice sector.  We are also seeking views on proposals which support the modernisation of our justice processes and procedures. The Scottish Government propose to do this through legislation in this parliamentary term.

The particular provisions from the Coronavirus Recovery and Reform (Scotland) Act 2022 which are being consulted on are:

  • Allowing for the electronic signing and sending of documents in criminal cases.
  • Enabling virtual attendance at a criminal court.
  • A national jurisdiction for callings from custody, so that custody cases can be heard in any court in Scotland.
  • An increase in the maximum level of fiscal fine, to £500, along with adjustments to the scale of fines.

Additional proposals included as part of this consultation are: 

  • Legislating to maximise the use of remote and digital ways of working including the use of digital images rather than production of physical evidence in court.
  • Alternative ways to prove copy documents to provide more flexibility in the law, taking account of digital innovations such as Digital Evidence Sharing Capability.

The temporary justice measures being consulted on conform in particular to the digital principle “inclusive, ethical and user focussed” from the Scottish Government’s March 2021 Digital strategy: “A changing nation: how Scotland will thrive in a digital world. These provisions enabled a progressive response to the justice system and the continuation of these measures in primary legislation would ensure the future resilience of the sector, ensuring the system can deliver efficient and effective justice services in the future.

The measures would also enable flexibility, appropriate choice and a person centred approach in the way processes are managed for those who use the system, including victims, witnesses and the accused and maximise the use of technology where appropriate in our procedures and practices.

Read the consultation paper

Read the easy read consultation paper

Why your views matter

This consultation provides you with a valuable opportunity to help shape how important changes - which are part of a wider programme of reform - can be delivered in order to ensure en efficient, effective and resilient justice system.

Responses to this consultation will be used to inform decisions as part of a wider legislative programme.


What happens next

Following the closing date, all responses will be analysed and considered along with any other relevant evidence. Responses will be published where we have been given permission to do so and an analysis report will also be made available.

A final report will also be published to report on what decisions have been made taking account of the views expressed in the consultation.


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