Change to weekend courts in Scotland suggested

Courts may have to sit at weekends to prevent suspects from spending a "disproportionate" amount of time in detention cells, the Justice Secretary has suggested. Kenny MacAskill has raised the prospect of weekend courts to ensure that no suspect spends longer than 12 hours in detention, but said this may have "financial implications".

The Scottish Government is seeking views in a consultation on how to implement recommendations of the recent Carloway Review of the investigation and prosecution of crime. A key recommendation was the removal of the requirement for two separate sources of evidence to secure a conviction, known as corroboration. Lord Carloway also made a raft of recommendations to reform arrest and detention, including the right to legal advice when taken into custody and a 12-hour limit on the period of arrest before charge.

Mr MacAskill said: "The changes proposed by Lord Carloway are far-reaching and radical. There may be more prosecutions in serious cases. There may be a need for weekend courts. "In the current climate, we cannot ignore the financial implications of the proposed changes and detailed modelling work will be required. However, our focus is firmly upon the best structure for our legal system and modernising it for the future."

The review found some suspects detained on a Thursday morning were not bailed until the Monday evening, a situation described as "unacceptable". The justice system should ensure "that suspects are not unnecessarily or disproportionately held in custody, especially over weekend periods". The review stated: "If all of this means that a limited number of procurators fiscal, and possibly some defence agents and sheriff courts, have to operate at weekends and on public holidays, then, like all necessary public services, that is what must happen." The costs of the reform "ought to be mitigated by savings in connection with releasing persons from custody and reducing weekday hours," it added.

The consultation exercise will run until October 5.

Source: Associated Press