We have identified over 650 questions and answers concerning many of the topics featured on this site. The information is categorised and can be reached by navigating via the entries below.

Information can also be retrieved using the Search box. This will search through the entire list of FAQ entries (in the Title and the Body) and will return results based on a match based on the words you input. If you wish, you may enter complete questions, e.g. "What currency would we use in an independent Scotland".


Deprecated: The each() function is deprecated. This message will be suppressed on further calls in /home/customer/www/yeswecan.scot/public_html/libraries/fsj_core/third/smarty/sysplugins/smarty_internal_compilebase.php on line 88

Security

Will Scotland replicate the three UK Security and Intelligence Agencies (MI5, MI6 and GCHQ)?

No. Scotland will need significant independent security and intelligence capacity to ensure its security. Independence offers an opportunity to build a new model for such work, that is fit for the 21st century and provides a proportionate means of ensuring Scotland’s national security.

On independence, the Scottish Government will set up a single security and intelligence agency for Scotland. The purpose of the agency will be set out in legislation, and will include the requirement to work with partners to ensure Scotland’s national security. Setting up the new body will allow us to do things differently, unconstrained by historical structures and precedent. We do not propose to replicate the current UK security and intelligence agencies (the Security Service, or MI5; the Secret Intelligence Service, or MI6; and GCHQ), although Scotland will continue to work very closely with them to ensure the security of Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will Scotland be able to protect itself against terrorist attacks?

Yes. Scotland will have the ability to protect our citizens as other independent countries do.

The primary responsibility of government is to ensure the security of its citizens and to protect them, their property and way of life against threats. An independent Scotland will have national security arrangements that reflect Scotland’s specific needs and values, recognising the risks and threats we face. It will be based on a full review of security requirements and on a regular assessment of threats.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Would an independent Scotland present an access route to the rest of the UK for crime and terrorism?

No. Scotland already plays an active part in the UK Counter Terrorism Strategy and, given that responsibility for policing and justice is already devolved to the Scottish Parliament, extensive cross-border co-operation on security is already a reality. The effectiveness of these arrangements was seen in the co-operation between Scottish police forces, the Security Service and the Metropolitan Police Service after the Glasgow Airport bombing. It will be in the mutual interests of Scotland and the rest of the UK to ensure that this cross-border co-operation continues following independence, supported by Police Scotland and a Scottish security and intelligence agency.

Under our proposals, an independent Scotland will remain part of the Common Travel Area with the rest of the UK and Ireland. As part of this, Scotland will maintain robust visa and immigration controls which will contribute to securing the external border against serious organised crime and terrorism. The arrangements to combat those seeking to exploit Scotland’s ports are already delivered by Police Scotland.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

How will an independent Scotland ensure it has the capacity and technology required to comprehensively protect Scottish interests at home and abroad?

An independent Scotland will have security arrangements that are proportionate, fit for purpose, and reflect a full strategic assessment of Scotland’s needs and the threats Scotland may face, in the same way as comparable nations. Scotland will have an independent security and intelligence agency which will work closely with Police Scotland and with the rest of the UK to share intelligence and co-ordinate responses to threats.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will an independent Scotland benefit from shared intelligence from allies such as the rest of the UK or the USA?

It will be in the interests of the rest of UK and other partners to work closely with Scotland on security matters, including the sharing of intelligence.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Membership of Schengen, the Common Travel Area and Port Controls

Will an independent Scotland remain in the Common Travel Area with the rest of the UK, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands?

Yes, that is the intention of the Scottish Government. The Common Travel Area has existed since the 1920s and allows freedom of movement for nationals of the UK, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. It will be in the interests of all partners for an independent Scotland to remain in the Common Travel Area.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will the rest of the UK and Ireland want to remain in the Common Travel Area with Scotland?

It will be in their overriding interests to do so. Erecting border controls with Scotland would be inconvenient for all Common Travel Area partners, including Scotland and the rest of the UK, and would not be in the interests of any party. Our shared history, culture and borders make the Common Travel Area of benefit to all of the territories within it.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Could an independent Scotland be in the Common Travel Area and have different immigration policies?

Yes. Ireland currently operates a different immigration system to the UK and this has not affected the Common Travel Area agreement. For example, Ireland grants “green cards”, which the UK does not, and the UK has a points based system which Ireland does not. Far from hindering the Common Travel Area, the UK and Ireland issued a joint statement earlier this year committing to the development of a Common Travel Area visa.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Would an independent Scotland be forced to join the Schengen Agreement?

No. The arguments for Scotland being out of Schengen and remaining in the Common Travel Area with the rest of the UK, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are based on valid practical considerations of geography and working arrangements that predate the EU and Schengen.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

How would Common Travel Area policy be agreed with the rest of the UK?

Maintaining the Common Travel Area is in the interests of all current members and agreement would be reached as part of negotiations with the rest of the UK.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Immigration

What will independence mean for immigration in Scotland?

Independence will enable Scotland to build a fair, robust and secure immigration system that meets our own social, economic and demographic needs.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What will an independent Scotland’s policy be on immigration? How will it be different from the rest of the UK?

Scotland’s differing demographic and migration needs mean that the current UK immigration system has not supported Scotland’s migration priorities. The current Westminster approach is strongly focused on reducing the overall numbers of migrants and introducing number caps for certain categories of skilled individuals.

With independence, each of these decisions would, in future, be for Scottish governments, with policy choices taken on the basis of Scotland’s needs and priorities.

For non-EU nationals, independence will enable us to develop and operate a controlled, transparent and efficient immigration system that best meets Scotland’s needs and supports our future growth. The current Scottish Government will take forward a points-based approach targeted at particular Scottish needs.

A particular issue for Scotland is the post-study work visa. There are more than 45,000 international students from every corner of the world studying in Scotland, bringing important investment, diversity and welcome expertise to Scotland. The current Scottish Government plans to reintroduce the post-study work visa.

We plan also to lower the current financial maintenance thresholds and minimum salary levels for entry to better align them with Scottish average wages and cost of living. This will open up greater opportunities for key skilled individuals from overseas who could play important roles in our society and economy, filling vital vacancies in individual businesses.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

I am living in Scotland on a UK visa, what would happen to me at day one of independence? Would I need to get a Scottish visa straight away?

All those legally in Scotland at independence will be able to remain in Scotland under the terms of their existing visa or entry. When their visa expires they will be expected to leave Scotland (and the rest of the UK) or apply for a new visa or extension under Scottish immigration rules.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Do you know how many immigrants would come to Scotland after independence and how would Scotland control this?

Would there be a cap on the number of migrants who can come to Scotland? We plan that an independent Scotland will introduce a controlled immigration system to meet our own economic, social and demographic priorities and needs. Each individual who wishes to come to Scotland to work, study or live will have to meet a set of reasonable and fair requirements to gain entry or approval to remain in Scotland. If there are higher than required numbers of non-European Economic Area/Swiss migrants entering Scotland, then this can be addressed through the points-based system using targeted changes, rather than a cap.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Is there a danger that those who have been denied permission to stay in the rest of the UK because of their stricter policies would move to Scotland?

Under our proposals for independence, Scotland will operate its own visa system. Therefore anyone who is subject to immigration controls and denied permission to stay in the rest of the UK will have to apply for a visa to enter Scotland and their application would be assessed under Scottish immigration rules. They would have no automatic right to move to Scotland.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Do immigrants put a strain on public services?

Evidence suggests that migrants overwhelmingly pay their way in terms of public services and make a positive financial contribution.

The Scottish Government’s policies are designed to ensure an appropriate level of immigration based on economic needs.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

How will an independent Scotland’s policy on immigration impact on the diversity of Scotland as a nation?

Scotland values our diverse ethnic minority communities, the contribution they make and the important role they play in enriching Scotland socially, culturally and economically. Healthy population growth is essential for Scotland’s economy. The main contributor to our population growth is from migrants who choose to make Scotland their home.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will increased immigration break down community cohesion?

No. Scotland is already a welcoming society that is stronger for being a culturally rich and diverse nation and will continue to be so.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

How will immigration rules at ports be enforced in an independent Scotland?

Under our proposals, criminal activity at ports of entry to Scotland, whether it is related to immigration, customs offences or organised crime will be dealt with in a timely and appropriate fashion by a Scottish Borders and Migration Service. Due process will be followed to detect, investigate and deal with all criminal and immigration matters at ports of entry.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Asylum

What will independence mean for asylum policy in Scotland?

As a nation playing a socially responsible role in the world, an independent Scotland will continue to provide a place of safety for those seeking asylum. Asylum is granted to those fleeing persecution or serious harm in their own country and in need of international protection.

Asylum is a separate issue from immigration. The current Scottish Government proposes that an independent Scotland will put in place an independent asylum agency. It will handle asylum applications from the initial submission, throughout the assessment process and make the decision on whether to grant refugee status to an individual.

The opportunity of independence will also allow Scotland to adopt a new humane approach to asylum seekers and refugees in line with our values and commitment to upholding internationally recognised human rights.

The new powers Scotland will gain at independence around equal opportunities, including race equality and anti-discrimination will be important in supporting Scotland’s ambition to be a progressive, welcoming and inclusive state.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What makes asylum seekers different from other migrants that come to Scotland?

Migrants apply for visas to come to Scotland to work, study or to join family members here. They make a decision to move to Scotland and have to show that they have sufficient resources to support themselves and their family while they are here.

Asylum seekers are fleeing persecution or serious harm in their own country. They often arrive in the country in which they claim asylum by chance and with very little forethought or preparation. Scotland will play a responsible role as a good global citizen, supporting vulnerable people fleeing persecution.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will an independent Scotland attract more asylum seekers than the rest of the UK?

There is no reason why this would be the case. Scotland will play a responsible role as a good global citizen, supporting vulnerable people fleeing persecution.

There is no empirical evidence to suggest that the reception conditions provided for asylum seekers constitute a “pull factor” or an incentive to seek protection in a particular country.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will failed asylum seekers be detained?

Some people will fail any asylum process and there need to be arrangements in place to deal with those people with fairness and compassion. There is therefore no need to detain people just because their claim has been unsuccessful and they are awaiting removal. Detention by default, along with the practice of dawn raids, would not form part of the current Scottish Government’s proposed approach to asylum.

Failed asylum seekers who represent a danger to the public need to be accommodated securely whilst steps are taken to remove them, but this should be addressed in other ways. Prison will be a legitimate alternative in some, though very few, cases – for example where a criminal offence has been committed.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will failed asylum seekers be forcibly removed?

Our intention is to encourage voluntary return for failed asylum seekers wherever possible. However, we accept that there will be a need for some forced removal. Such operations will be undertaken in a sensitive and compassionate manner. There will be an end to dawn raids and a commitment not to forcibly remove vulnerable asylum seekers, such as young children or heavily pregnant women.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Citizenship

What will independence mean for citizenship in Scotland?

Our proposal is that on day one of independence, all British citizens who live in Scotland and all British citizens born in Scotland but residing elsewhere would automatically be considered Scottish citizens. Others may be able to apply for citizenship following independence through routes such as citizenship by descent or by naturalisation.

Under these proposals Scotland would not create a barrier to individuals holding Scottish citizenship alongside British or any other citizenship.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What would being a Scottish citizen mean and how would I prove that I am a Scottish citizen? Would there be a registration process?

As outlined above, all British citizens who are habitually resident in Scotland at the date of independence and all British citizens born in Scotland but resident elsewhere would automatically be considered a Scottish citizen. There would be no registration required and there are no plans to have a Scottish ID card.

We intend that the rights and responsibilities which accompany Scottish citizenship will be broadly in line with those currently aligned with British citizenship. However, there is no written record of what rights and responsibilities are associated with British citizenship. We would support the inclusion of the rights and responsibilities of Scottish citizens in the permanent written constitution of an independent Scotland. Those rights and responsibilities will reflect the European Convention of Human Rights.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What different routes to citizenship will exist under the Scottish Government’s proposals and who will qualify for these?

 

Current Status Scottish Citizenship?

At the date of independence

British citizen habitually resident in Scotland on day one of independence

Yes, automatically a Scottish citizen

British citizens born in Scotland but living outside of Scotland on day one of independence

Yes, automatically a Scottish citizen

After the date of independence

Child born in Scotland to at least one parent who has Scottish citizenship or indefinite leave to remain at the time of their birth

Yes. Automatically a Scottish citizen

Child born outside Scotland to at least one parent who has Scottish citizenship

Yes. Automatically a Scottish citizen (the birth must be registered in Scotland to take effect)

British national living outside Scotland with at least one parent who qualifies for Scottish citizenship

Can register as a Scottish citizen (will need to provide evidence to substantiate)

Citizens of any country, who have a parent or grandparent who qualifies for Scottish citizenship

Can register as a Scottish citizen (will need to provide evidence to substantiate)

Migrants in Scotland legally

May apply for naturalisation as a Scottish citizen (subject to meeting good character, residency and any other requirements set out under Scottish immigration law)

Citizens of any country who have spent at least 10 years living in Scotland at any time and have an ongoing connection with Scotland

May apply for naturalisation as a Scottish citizen (subject to meeting good character and other requirements set out under Scottish immigration law)

 

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Must I be a Scottish citizen?Can I opt out of Scottish citizenship and retain my British citizenship?

Our proposals will allow people to opt out of Scottish citizenship. However, under international law, when setting nationality rules a country has a duty to avoid making people stateless. Therefore, those people who would automatically be considered a Scottish citizen will only be able to opt out if they already hold citizenship of another nation.

British nationality rules will be a matter for the rest of the UK. Should you qualify for British citizenship under the rest of the UK’s rules post-independence then you will be able to opt out of Scottish citizenship or hold dual citizenship. Information on how to opt out will be made available before independence. We aim to keep the process simple yet robust.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Can I have both Scottish and British citizenship?

Our proposals for citizenship in an independent Scotland are based upon an inclusive model and will include dual citizenship, recognising our shared history with the UK. We will not place obstacles in the way of individuals holding Scottish citizenship alongside British or any other citizenship.

The UK allows dual or multiple citizenship for British citizens. If a British citizen acquires citizenship and a passport of another country, this does not affect their British citizenship, right to hold a British passport or right to live in the UK. It will be for the rest of the UK to decide whether it allows dual UK/Scottish citizenship, but if Westminster decided that Scottish citizens could not also be UK citizens it would be inconsistent with its approach to every other country.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

As a Scottish citizen could I still visit or live in the rest of the UK easily?

Yes. Scottish citizens will be EU citizens and as such would have the right to live and work anywhere in the EU, including the rest of the UK.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Would Scotland’s rules be different from British citizenship rules?

They will be broadly similar to existing British rules and will be based on residence and parentage.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Who would qualify for citizenship by descent?

Citizenship by descent will be open to those whose parent or grandparent was born in Scotland and qualifies, or would have qualified if living, for Scottish citizenship.

There will be a registration process for citizenship by descent and those who wish to register would have to prove their family connection with relevant documentation. Those who successfully claim citizenship by descent will have the same rights and responsibilities as other Scottish citizens, including the right to live and work in Scotland.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Passports

What will the rules be on passports in an independent Scotland?

We intend that Scottish citizens will be able to apply for a Scottish passport from the date of independence. Passport eligibility will be aligned with citizenship. If you qualify for Scottish citizenship then you will be entitled to carry a Scottish passport. Scottish passports will meet the standard requirements for EU passports.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

When can I get my Scottish passport?

We plan that Scottish citizens will be able to apply for Scottish passports from the date of independence.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Who will issue my Scottish passport?

The current Scottish Government proposes a shared service agreement with HM Passport Office for a transitional period, with responsibility transferring to a new Scottish passport agency over the course of the first parliament of an independent Scotland.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

How much would a Scottish passport cost and how long would it last?

Fee scales will be published prior to independence. It is the current Scottish Government’s intention that passports in a newly independent Scotland will cost no more than the respective UK passport at that time.

Adult passports will last for 10 years and child passports for five years.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Who can have a Scottish passport?

Under our plans, anyone who is a Scottish citizen will be eligible for a Scottish passport.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will I need to have a Scottish passport?

No. You will require a valid passport if you want to travel outside the Common Travel Area (Scotland, the rest of the UK, the Republic of Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands), but we will not impose a requirement for Scottish citizens to have a Scottish passport – just as there is no requirement now to have a UK passport.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What would a Scottish passport look like and would it be valid for travel around the world?

Scottish passports will comply with EU standards for passports. They will look much the same as current UK passports in colour, size, and layout but will be identified as a Scottish passport on the front cover. Scottish passports will be recognised worldwide.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

I still have a number of years left of my UK passport, can I keep it? Would I be able to renew my UK passport?

The Scottish Government plans to recognise valid UK passports until they expire. As set out above, the Scottish Government intends to allow dual nationality and would not place any obstacles in the way of individuals holding a Scottish passport alongside a UK passport.

Entitlement to UK passports will be a matter for the rest of the UK.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Borders

How will an independent Scotland protect its borders from terrorist threats?

The present Scottish Government plans that an independent Scotland will have a Scottish Borders and Migration Service which will be responsible for border control at airports and ports. Our overseas work through the consulate network, such as issuing visas, will help ensure that only those entitled to enter Scotland can do so.

As is currently the case, individuals known to be a threat to Scotland will not be allowed to enter the country. They will either be stopped at the point of application, or on attempting to enter the country. In certain cases the involvement of the police will be necessary, and there will be a key role for the Border Policing Command of Police Scotland in cases of criminality or persons wanted for criminal offences.

The Scottish Government will work with international partners to ensure that those deemed a threat to the security of Scotland are deported following proper investigation and processes. This will be consistent with relevant human rights legislation.

As a member of the EU, Scotland will uphold data and information sharing arrangements in place to contribute to, and benefit from, terrorism prevention processes such as watch lists of persons of interest.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will Scotland have security posts at the land border with England?

No. Erecting border controls with Scotland would be inconvenient for all Common Travel Area partners, including Scotland and the rest of the UK, and will not be in the interests of any party. Our shared history, culture and borders make the Common Travel Area of benefit to all of the territories within it.

As is the case with Ireland in the Common Travel Area currently, Scotland will work with the rest of the UK to establish joint processes to manage the Common Travel Area.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

How will Scotland police its international border controls at ports and airports?

Following independence, the Scottish Government’s proposed Scottish Borders and Migration Service will have responsibility for ensuring that visas are issued appropriately and that only those with a right to enter Scotland can do so. In cases involving criminality there will also be a key role for the Border Policing Command of Police Scotland.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Law and Order

What benefits will independence bring for law and order in Scotland?

Scotland already has its own distinct legal system. Our justice system and institutions have a long and proud history. Scotland’s justice agencies have demonstrated the benefits of having decisions taken in Scotland relevant to circumstances here.

However, powers over some key justice matters are held by Westminster, including decisions over drug classification, firearms, gambling and road traffic offences. The Westminster also controls how much of the income collected from criminals in Scotland, through fines and proceeds of crime legislation, can be retained to invest in Scottish communities.

Decisions about currently reserved issues like welfare, employment and public services also have a significant impact on the factors that lead people towards crime and make our communities vulnerable to criminals.

With independence, Scotland will have the full range of powers to tackle crime and the causes of crime in a more joined-up way, to make our communities safer.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will existing UK laws passed by Westminster still apply after independence?

Yes. Following independence, existing laws, whether passed by Westminster or the Scottish Parliament, will continue to apply until they are amended by the independent Scottish Parliament.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will the independence of Scotland’s judges and prosecutors be protected in an independent Scotland?

Yes. The roles, functions and independence of Scotland’s judges and prosecutors will be safeguarded following independence. As at present, Scottish Ministers and the Scottish Parliament will have no powers to intervene in independent judicial decisions. Prosecution decisions will continue to be taken by the Lord Advocate.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Does Scotland have the necessary skills and facilities to ensure law and order in an independent Scotland?

Yes. Scotland has its own legal profession, judiciary, police, prosecutors and other trained justice staff working in our courts, prisons and local criminal justice services.

Crime in Scotland is at a 39 year low and violent crime has almost halved since 2006/07. There are fewer victims of crime and more people feel that their communities are safer places to live. The effectiveness of Scotland’s justice system demonstrates the benefits of decisions being taken in Scotland.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Crime and Policing

Will the police still operate in the same way in an independent Scotland?

Yes. Scotland already has its own police service, Police Scotland, which is supervised by the Scottish Police Authority. Scotland’s police service safeguards strong local policing in our communities and ensures that specialist national expertise and equipment – like firearms units or major investigation teams – are available whenever and wherever they are needed.

Scotland has over 1,000 additional police officers in our communities compared with 2006/07 and crime clear-up rates by the police are at their highest level for 35 years.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

On independence, what will happen to UK police forces that currently operate in Scotland?

Following independence, the functions of UK forces currently operating in Scotland – the British Transport Police, Ministry of Defence Police and Civil Nuclear Constabulary – will come under Scottish control.

The Scottish Government is already seeking agreement with Westminster to integrate the functions of the British Transport Police into Police Scotland. The Scottish Government intends that, with independence, the functions of the Civil Nuclear Constabulary in Scotland will also be integrated into Police Scotland.

Just as now, policing functions in relation to defence interests will be required in an independent Scotland and posts will be needed to undertake those functions. An independent Scottish government will be able to determine the most effective and efficient way of managing those functions.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will the police in Scotland still work with forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland after independence?

Yes. There are existing well-established arrangements to ensure effective cross-border co-operation between Police Scotland and forces in the rest of the UK. It will be in the shared interests of Scotland and the rest of the UK to ensure that these practical arrangements continue following independence.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will I still call ‘999’ for emergency services?

Yes. 999 will remain the number to call for police, fire, ambulance and coastguard services in an independent Scotland.

Scotland also has its own national police non-emergency phone number – 101. People can call 101 to get advice about crime prevention or to report a crime that doesn’t need an emergency response.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

How will Scotland’s police and prosecutors deal with serious and organised crime?

Scotland’s Serious and Organised Crime Taskforce ensures that relevant agencies work together to tackle serious and organised criminals in our communities.

The new Scottish Crime Campus at Gartcosh will provide purpose-built, specialist accommodation for 1,100 staff from the police and other agencies to work together even more closely to protect Scotland from the threat of serious and organised crime.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What relationship will an independent Scotland have with the UK’s new National Crime Agency?

There are existing well-established arrangements to ensure effective co-operation between Scotland’s Serious and Organised Crime Taskforce and the National Crime Agency. It will be in the interests of all agencies involved in combatting serious and organised crime to continue this practical co-operation following independence.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Fire and Rescue Services

Will fire and rescue services still operate in the same way in an independent Scotland?

Yes. Scotland already has its own Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. The unified service safeguards strong local fire and rescue services in our communities and ensures specialist national expertise and equipment are available whenever and wherever they are needed.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

EU and International Co-operation

How will independence improve Scotland’s justice agencies’ work with their counterparts in the EU and internationally?

Scotland’s police and prosecutors already work effectively with their counterparts in other European countries and through EU bodies, such as Europol.

The Scottish Government opposes Westminster’s plans to opt-out of EU agreements that put at risk access to the European Arrest Warrant and other practical cross-border measures for Scottish justice agencies.

Following independence, Scotland will no longer have to rely on representation on international bodies via Westminster. As an independent EU member state, Scotland will have its own voice in the development of EU justice and home affairs policy and legislation.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will Scotland be able to extradite cross-border criminals to face justice?

Yes. The Scottish Government intends to maintain current arrangements for extradition to ensure that criminals can be pursued and brought to justice across international borders.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

How will an independent Scotland deal with cross-border crimes like human trafficking?

Scotland’s devolved justice agencies already work effectively with their counterparts in other countries to tackle human trafficking and other cross-border crimes.

An independent Scotland will have its own voice and will be able to participate positively and directly in EU and wider international co-operative arrangements that protect our security and help tackle cross-border crime.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Courts and Tribunals

What impact will independence have on Scotland’s courts?

The civil and criminal courts in Scotland will continue to operate after independence.

Following recommendations from the Lord President, Scotland’s most senior judge, the Scottish Government is already taking forward a programme of reforms to modernise and improve Scotland’s courts to ensure that they are fit for the 21st century.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What will happen to Scottish cases currently referred to the UK Supreme Court?

Arrangements will be made to finalise Scottish cases already referred to the UK Supreme Court. The highest courts in an independent Scotland will be the Inner House of the Court of Session and the High Court of Justiciary (sitting as Court of Criminal Appeal), which will be known jointly as the Supreme Court of Scotland.

The UK Supreme Court will no longer have jurisdiction in Scotland. The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg and European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg will continue to have the same jurisdiction in Scotland.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will independence mean Scotland needs new courts or new judges?

No. Independence will not result in a need for Scotland to add to its existing courts and judiciary. As at present, following independence the total number of judges will be agreed through dialogue between Scottish Ministers and the Lord President, Scotland’s most senior judge.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

How will tribunals change following independence?

Scotland has its own Scottish Tribunals Service and tribunal judiciary responsible for tribunals on devolved matters, such as mental health. The Scottish Government intends that following independence, tribunals for reserved matters, such as welfare benefits and employment, will become part of the tribunal structure in Scotland.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What will happen to the income from criminal justice fines?

The majority of income from fines applied in Scotland is currently transferred to Westminster under UK Treasury rules.

In an independent Scotland, this fine income will be retained by the Scottish Government and has the potential to deliver additional net income of more than £7 million per year to Scotland.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What will happen to the money recovered from criminals through proceeds of crime legislation in an independent Scotland?

Westminster currently places a cap of £30 million per year on the amount of money recovered from criminals that can be retained by the Scottish Government and used to reinvest in communities in Scotland. Westminster has refused requests to remove that cap.

In an independent Scotland there will be no cap. This means that all money recovered from criminals will be available to be reinvested in communities across Scotland.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Prisons

What impact will independence have on prisons and prisoners?

Scotland already has its own Prison Service and prison officers. As at present, criminals sentenced to prison by a Scottish court will be sent to a Scottish prison.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will prisoner transfers continue between prisons in Scotland and England, Wales and Northern Ireland?

Yes. There are existing arrangements in place for prisoner transfers between Scotland and the rest of the UK to enable prisoners to maintain family contact during their sentence. The Scottish Government plans to maintain these arrangements on independence. Arrangements for international prisoner transfers will also continue on the same basis as now.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Justice Workforce

How will police, fire and prison officer pay be set in an independent Scotland?

Westminster has decided to end collective bargaining for police pay and conditions in England and Wales. The current Scottish Government rejects this approach, and has introduced legislation to establish a Scottish Police Negotiating Body, ensuring that decisions about police pay and conditions are taken here in Scotland.

With independence, decisions on the pay and terms and conditions of prison officers and firefighters will be taken in Scotland, building on the strong record of partnership working with staff bodies.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will police, fire and prison officer pensions still be paid?

Yes. The Scottish Government paper Pensions in an Independent Scotland made clear that in an independent Scotland all public service pension rights and entitlements which have been accrued for fully or executively devolved or reserved schemes will be fully protected and accessible. There will be no difference to how much people pay for their pensions or the level of benefits they receive as a result of the move to independence.

Independence will make it possible for a future Scottish government to consider positively the pension terms of all “uniformed” services, including the age at which they should be able to access their occupational pension.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Road Traffic Law

How will the approach to drink driving limits change in an independent Scotland?

The Scotland Act 2012 provided the Scottish Parliament with limited powers to introduce a distinct drink driving limit and a Scottish Government consultation confirmed strong public support in Scotland for a lower limit. The Scottish Government will bring forward legislation to lower the drink driving limit once technical changes to drink drive testing devices have been made.

Independence will allow all decisions on drink driving policy to be taken in Scotland.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What other benefits can independence deliver for road traffic law?

Independence will give Scotland full control over road traffic criminal law, and the ability to develop policies to reduce the number of deaths and injuries on Scotland’s roads. This will include opportunities to empower our police to conduct random breath tests of drivers, create different drink drive limits for different types of driver, and to consider whether existing UK law on dangerous driving, careless driving and speeding offers a sufficient deterrent to drivers who put at risk other road users and pedestrians.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

How will people driving across the border know what different traffic laws apply?

It is the responsibility of every driver to know the rules and laws of the roads on which they are driving.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Drugs

How will an independent Scotland deal with illegal drug use?

Policy on drug misuse is already devolved to the Scottish Government. Scotland’s drug strategy, The Road to Recovery, has led the way in tackling drug problems and has received international acclaim for its positive focus on care, treatment and recovery. Drug taking in the general population is falling and drug taking among young people is at the lowest level in a decade. With independence, responsibility for legislation on the classification of illegal drugs will also become the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Gambling

What will the approach to gambling be in an independent Scotland?

With independence, responsibility for the regulation of gambling will transfer to the Scottish Parliament. An independent Scotland will have the powers to introduce additional measures to tackle problem gambling, through more effective regulation of the industry, in contrast to Westminster’s approach of greater deregulation.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Firearms

How will access to firearms be controlled in an independent Scotland?

The Scotland Act 2012 provided the Scottish Parliament with limited additional powers to introduce licensing for airguns. Work is underway by the Scottish Government to introduce a licensing regime for airguns in Scotland. However, Westminster has refused requests to devolve powers fully to allow decisions on the licensing and control of firearms to be taken in Scotland.

Independence will give Scotland full powers to control firearms in Scotland. Firearms legislation and licensing in an independent Scotland will be simplified, made easier for the public to understand and for the authorities to enforce.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.