New law could give prisoners the vote in Scotland

he scheme for sex offenders is offered in prisons as well as in the community. Picture: TSPL
he scheme for sex offenders is offered in prisons as well as in the community. Picture: TSPL
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Prisoners could be handed the vote in Scotland as ministers unveiled plans for a new “Electoral Franchise Law” in yesterday’s Programme for Government.

Ministers say it will not be brought forward until a consultation on prisoner voting in Scotland has been undertaken. Tory justice spokesman Liam Kerr said the development on prisoner votes was “alarming”.

“This simply demonstrates that the SNP is unable to give victims a meaningful place in the justice system,” he said.

READ MORE: PfG: Nicola Sturgeon unveils new support package for victims of sexual assault

Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs earlier this year she did not support prisoners in jail for the most serious crimes being handed the vote.

A majority of Holyrood’s equalities and human rights committee said the existing ban should be lifted. Its report said not being able to vote might impact negatively on an individual’s rehabilitation. A court in Strasbourg ruled in 2004 that a blanket ban on British prisoners exercising the right to vote contravened the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

The Electoral Franchise Bill unveiled by the First Minister yesterday will also include provisions to extend the franchise for EU citizens living in Scotland, so they will be allowed to vote in Scottish Parliament and local council elections after Brexit.

READ MORE: FMQs: Sturgeon opposes “heinous” criminals getting vote