The bill takes forward a range of proposals designed to modernise and improve efficiency within the criminal justice system, responding to reviews by Lord Carloway and Sheriff Principal Bowen.
Key measures contained in the bill are:
* Provisions which will abolish the requirement for corroboration in criminal trials;
* Increases to the jury majority required for a guilty verdict - this looks likely to be set at two-thirds of jurors;
* Increasing the maximum sentence for handling knives and other offensive weapons from four to five years imprisonment;
* Modernising the law around arrest and questioning of suspects;
* Improving the right to legal advice for individuals taken into police custody;
* Introducing a statutory aggravation for human trafficking; and
* Strengthening court powers to impose sentences on those who commit offences while on early release.
“Taken together, these reforms aim to strike a balance between strengthening the powers available to police and prosecutors, while protecting the rights of the accused," said Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill.
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