RISE is highlighting a shocking new report into criminal justice which found that the system “punishes poorer people” as just the latest sign that the Scottish Government needs an entirely new approach to criminal justice based on supporting communities to get out of poverty and hardship, not stigmatising and punishing people for being poor.
The report, carried out by University of Edinburgh researchers, uncovered:
- Class inequalities: Poor children were twice as likely to face police action than better-off kids who commit the same crime, and 5 times as likely to be placed on statutory supervision.
- Crime hurts poorest most: People in extreme poverty were much more likely to be both the victims and perpetrators of crime.
- Poverty drives crime and violence: Household poverty was a key factor in exacerbating crime and violence, even with all other factors taken into account.
- The Juvenile system is broken: Contact with the juvenile system actually increases the likelyhood of young people being involved in crime and violence, despite the fact its purpose is to stop re-offending.
- Gender divide is sharp - Young women are three times less likely to be engaged in violent acts than young men, yet women are still being imprisoned for minor offences.
Another report produced in the same publication, Scottish Justice Matters, found that the recent fall in crime figures has not occurred in areas with the highest rates of crime, which were all areas with chronic health problems and soaring unemployment.
A RISE spokesperson said the report was only the latest case to highlight that Scotland’s approach to law and order is “criminal injustice”.
“Whether it is the litany of scandals coming out of Police Scotland from the Sheku Bayou case to racial profiling in stop-and-search, or it is the widespread evidence that locking more and more people up in prisons only increases crime and community breakdown, or this latest report showing the class inequalities in our penal system and our broken juvenile system, it all comes back to the same thing – Scotland has a system of criminal injustice and we need to rip it up and start again."
“We need an entirely new approach which prioritises tackling the root causes of crime and violence, which as the report clearly shows are poverty, unemployment and chronic health problems."
“Treating poor, young people like criminals, funnily enough, pushes them towards crime, whereas if you treat them like human beings, engage seriously with the problems they have and provide opportunities for their development, you get people uninterested in crime."
“RISE believes our whole approach to criminal justice needs overhauled: stop locking people up unless they are a serious danger to the community, make sure the police are responsible to the community not criminalising the community, and tackle poverty and create jobs rather than stigmatising people living in hardship.”