THE Scottish Government has published a “vision for justice” with a range of reforms planned over the next four years, as the Justice Secretary warned the current system was perpetuating inequality and letting women down.

Keith Brown argued that there is “deep-rooted women’s inequality” in Scotland that is perpetuated by the justice system that was “designed by men for men” as he highlighted violent and abusive behaviour towards women as a priority for the Government.

Announcing a strategy for justice reform, he said he wanted victims to experience fewer delays in the criminal justice system, with an increased focus on the needs of women and girls, particularly those who experience sexual abuse.

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Opening a debate about the strategy, he said: “The Government is committed to tackling behaviour that stems from systemic, deep-rooted women’s inequality, which leads to violent and abusive behaviour by men directed at women and girls, precisely because they are women and girls.

“You must recognise the role our justice system plays in perpetuating this inequality. Our justice system was historically designed by men for men, which simply does not meet the needs of women and children in our society.

“Survivors tell that how they are treated by justice services affects their feelings of confidence in the justice process. More conviction rates for sexual crimes are also a real cause for concern. And that’s why we want to improve how the justice system can better serve women and ensure that survivors have trust in the criminal justice process.”

Brown also said reforms would include establishing a victims’ commissioner to improve the experiences of people who suffer from crimes and community-based punishments rather than prison for many offenders.

Suggesting that “community interventions are more effective than short prison sentences”, Brown said: “We can have the puerile practice of trying to look tough on crime after crime has happened - and that’s after victims have suffered - by locking more people up for longer periods and building more and bigger prisons, paid for presumably by slashing police numbers by around 17,000. But not tough enough to make sure that the difficult decisions which are required which will actually lead to less crime being committed, and that means fewer victims and less suffering.”