Justice Secretary signals move to strengthen victims' rights

The Justice Secretary has indicated a move to strengthen victims' rights after meeting with the families of two murder victims.

Humza Yousaf said victims would be placed "even more at the heart of the criminal justice system".

It is thought new measures will relate to the transparency of parole board decisions and to offenders who break the terms of their early release from prison.

Mr Yousaf told The Scotsman newspaper: "Where we can strengthen measures for victims and put them even more at the heart of the criminal justice system, I will look to do that.

"In the next few weeks you should see some very clear signals that we will do what we can to strengthen victims' rights within the criminal justice system."

Teenage murder victim Michelle Stewart
Mr Yousaf has met with the family of teenage murder victim Michelle Stewart (Police Scotland/PA)

Earlier this month the Justice Secretary met the family of 17-year-old Michelle Stewart, who was stabbed to death in Drongan, Ayrshire, in 2008.

John Wilson was sentenced to 12 years in prison but has been deemed eligible for temporary release after serving nine years.

Mr Yousaf said: "My promise to the family of Michelle Stewart is not only that they remain fully informed, but that their views are taken on board as part of any temporary release measures."

Thank you to family of Michelle Stewart for meeting with me. They've shown enormous strength in coming forward to tell Michelle's story.

Family presented a number of proposals - I will look at them with an open mind.

Will look to see how we can strengthen victim's rights.

-- Humza Yousaf (@HumzaYousaf) August 3, 2018

The Justice Secretary also met the family of Craig McClelland, 31, who was murdered in Paisley by an offender "unlawfully at large" for five months after breaching the terms of a home release curfew.

He said he had promised the McClelland family that lessons would be learned.

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