HC Deb 17 June 1999 vol 333 c214W
Sir Robert Smith

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps the Government have taken to ensure that the Judiciary and the Procurator Fiscal Service is equipped to deal with the implementation of the Human Rights Act 1998; what material has been produced to assist with this process; and if he will place copies of it in the Library. [86209]

Dr. Reid

[holding answer 15 June 1999]The Judicial Studies Committee established in 1997 under the Chairmanship of the right hon. Lord Ross has undertaken a comprehensive programme of training on human rights issues for all Judges, Sheriffs Principal, Sheriffs and Temporary Sheriffs. This includes the provision of specially commissioned briefing material, texts and reports produced by commercial publishers and a series of seminars held at various locations for all Judges and Sheriffs, with particular emphasis on the human rights issues arising immediately in Scotland as a result of the Scotland Act 1998. The normal programme of Court business has been adjusted to allow attendance at these events. Following the Government's recent announcement of the commencement date of the Human Rights Act 1998, the Judicial Studies Committee will shortly be embarking on the detailed planning necessary to ensure that appropriate further Judicial education is provided in good time before that date.

The Lord Advocate is responsible for the Procurator Fiscal Service. His Department is now trained and equipped to deal with the implementation of the Human Rights Act 1998. Early last year his officials prepared a detailed action plan for his Department on implementation of Convention rights in Scotland. A full time Working Group of 4 senior lawyers was established in June 1998 and has conducted a comprehensive review of prosecution policy and practice in Scotland. The most extensive training exercise in the history of the Department commenced in February 1999 and was completed on 3 June 1999 with all lawyers in the Department receiving three days training on the European Convention on Human Rights, the Scotland Act and the Human Rights Act. Further practical workshops and training for support staff will take place during the summer of 1999 and the Human Rights Act will, in future, form part of the core training of all prosecutors in Scotland. This training was accompanied by detailed and extensive training material and guidance. The materials produced for the Procurator Fiscal Service contain prosecution policy and are confidential.

Since 20 May 1999 prosecution in Scotland is a matter for the Scottish Parliament.

The other matters will also be for that Parliament from 1 July 1999.

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