Date lodged: 27 February 2018
To ask the Scottish Government what action it takes to ensure that the justice system does not discriminate against people with learning disabilities.
Answered by: Michael Matheson 12 March 2018
Both the Justice Board and the Justice Board’s Equality and Diversity Sub-Group works collaboratively across the justice sector to help to ensure that the justice system does not discriminate against anyone.
Disability is one of the nine protected characteristics listed in the Equality Act 2010. Public bodies have a general duty (known as the public sector equality duty) to:
- eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation;
- advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not; and
- foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it.
The Scottish Government supplemented this general duty through the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) (Scotland) Regulations 2012, which imposes specific duties on Scottish public bodies to help them to meet the general duty. The Scottish Government reports on these specific duties, biannually, in the Equality Outcomes and Mainstreaming Reports. In addition Scottish Ministers have published their ‘proposals to enable the better performance of the public sector equality duty 2013-2017’ and the ‘Making Progress report’.
Scotland’s Learning Disability Strategy, the ‘Keys to Life’ was published in 2013. This is a ten year strategy which embraces a human rights approach and includes a strong focus on reducing inequalities for people with learning disabilities. To help to achieve transformational change in attitudes, behaviours and experiences for people with learning disabilities in Scotland, the Keys to Life will now be closely aligned with the ‘Fairer Scotland for Disabled People Delivery Plan to 2021 for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’, which was published in 2016. This plan has five long-term ambitions aimed at changing the lives of disabled people in Scotland, this includes the Protected Rights ambition and associated action that, ‘Scotland’s justice system is equipped to meet the needs of disabled people in a fair and inclusive way. Disabled people are confident that their rights will be protected and they will be receive fair treatment at all times’. The plan sets out the 93 actions which will be taken forward during the current parliamentary term to achieve this and the other ambitions and actions.