The Justice Committee will take the unusual step of hearing evidence from witnesses at Stage 2 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Bill next week.
The committee will meet on Tuesday 23 March at the Scottish Parliament to take oral evidence from a number of witnesses on Stage 2 amendments dealing with stalking, mandatory sentencing for knife crime, and prostitution offences.
The amendments themselves, which will be formally debated after the Easter recess, propose changes to the law to:
- create new offences of engaging in a paid-for sexual activity (and related offences) (amendments by Trish Godman MSP and Margo MacDonald MSP), or a new offence of paying for sexual services of a prostitute subjected to force (amendment by Nigel Don MSP).
- create new offences of stalking (amendments by Rhoda Grant MSP ) or threatening, alarming or distressing behaviour (amendment by the Kenny MacAskill MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for Justice).
- require the courts to impose (other than in exceptional cases) a minimum custodial sentence of either six months or two years for carrying a knife (or other pointed article) in a public place (amendments by Richard Baker MSP and Bill Aitken MSP).
This is an exceptional evidence session for the Justice Committee as in the majority of cases witnesses’ evidence is submitted at Stage 1 of the legislative process rather than during Stage 2 consideration of amendments.
Witnesses confirmed are:
- George Lewis, co-chair of Scot PEP (Scottish Prostitutes Education Project)
- Ann Hamilton from Glasgow City Council’s End Prostitution Now Campaign
- Ann Moulds from Action Scotland Against Stalking
- Frida Petersson from Victim Support Scotland
- John Muir, petitioner and campaigner for “Damian’s Law”
- Chief Constable David Strang, Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland
Committee Convener Bill Aitken MSP said: “The Justice Committee have agreed to take evidence at Stage 2 on some of the amendments lodged for Stage 2. We believe these amendments raise significant new issues that were not considered during our Stage 1 inquiry.
"All the evidence we take in this session, and the written submissions we have received, will be taken into account when the amendments are formally debated after the Easter recess.”