Page last updated at 17:41 GMT, Thursday, 26 April 2012 18:41 UK

Scottish government debate on women offenders 1

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill told MSPs the report entitled Recommendations from the Commission on Women Offenders was a "powerful piece of work which I believe sets out a compelling vision for the future of the criminal justice system in Scotland".

Mr MacAskill said the report had a number of very clear and practical recommendations that would require substantial input and effort from across Scotland, including from across the political spectrum.

He said he would give a formal response to the report before the summer recess in June and said he looked forward to "working across political boundaries over the coming months and years to deliver real and substantial improvements for women in the criminal justice system".

The report says that Scotland's criminal justice system needs a "radical reworking" if the number of female offenders is to be reduced.

It makes 37 recommendations, including the closure of Cornton Vale.

The inquiry led by former Lord Advocate Dame Elish Angiolini was set-up following inspection reports into Scotland's only women's prison.

Dame Elish said the "significant cost to society" of locking up woman suffering from addiction or mental health problems could no longer be ignored.

Scottish Labour justice spokesperson Lewis Macdonald said Scotland now needed "timely and decisive actions by ministers to address the various challenges identified in the report".

David McLetchie, the Scottish Conservative justice spokesperson, said it was "arguable women are under represented in the prison population" and he said a reconfiguration of the facilities at Cornton Vale itself might be preferable to a new prison.

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