Delivering community justice

National leadership group established.

An expert group focused on improving the delivery of community justice interventions will meet tomorrow (Wednesday 21 August) for the first time.  

Senior leaders from justice, health, local government and social work will identify and coordinate action to further strengthen community justice services and alternatives to custody. They will also focus on increasing public and judicial confidence in community justice by demonstrating its effectiveness in supporting rehabilitation and reducing reoffending.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf will co-chair the group with Councillor Kelly Parry, COSLA’s Communities and Wellbeing spokesperson.

Mr Yousaf said:

“Our goal is to change attitudes and support a wider cultural shift that goes beyond simply increasing the proportion of sentences served in the community. We need to strengthen delivery and improve confidence in community justice interventions at every stage – from pre-prosecution through to court and post-sentencing, including helping people leaving prison. Clear leadership is required at every level, bringing together the important work already taking place across justice and other services to prevent offending and victimisation.

“Parliament’s backing for the extension of Scotland’s presumption against short prison sentences showed there is already considerable consensus around our evidence-led approach to preventing reoffending. I am looking forward to working with the group to continue driving improvements at pace and scale – ensuring Scotland’s community justice services are the best they can be.”

Councillor Parry said:

“Most people understand the difficult circumstances of those who get into trouble with the law and many would consider alternatives to prison if that would reduce the chances of reoffending. I welcome the greater emphasis on community alternatives to custody as an alternative which is likely to be more effective. However I recognise that public confidence needs to be developed further in these measures. 

“I am pleased that the National Community Justice Leadership Group has been established to take this broad agenda forward under the joint political oversight of the Scottish Government and Local Government, given the crucial lead role of local authorities in community justice and the role of the public and third sector.”


The National Community Justice Leadership Group will link into other national groups including the Drug Deaths Taskforce and Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group to consider multiple and complex needs.

The extension to the presumption against short prison sentences came into effect on 4 July 2019.

Latest statistics show those released from a short prison sentence of 12 months or less were reconvicted nearly twice as often than those sentenced to serve community payback orders (CPOs), the most commonly used community sentence.

The Scottish Government has increased investment in criminal justice social work services to over £100 million, which includes an additional investment of £9.5 million per year compared with 2015-16 for community justice services, including to help build capacity around the presumption against short-term sentences.

In addition to this, in 2019-20, just over £11.6 million is being invested in third sector organisations supporting community justice and criminal justice social work services. As part of the national model for Community Justice, community justice partners collaborate to make best use of resources locally. 

Group membership




Humza Yousaf, MSP


Cabinet Secretary for Justice

Scottish Government

Cllr Kelly Parry (Co-Chair)

Community and Wellbeing Spokesperson


Fiona Dyer

Interim Director

Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice

Karyn McCluskey

Chief Executive

Community Justice Scotland

Sally Louden

Chief Executive


David Harvie

Crown Agent

Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service

Val De Souza

Integrated Joint Board Chief Officer

IJB Chief Officers Group

Graham Foster

Director of Public Health, NHS Forth Valley

NHS Public Health Directors

John Watt


Parole Board for Scotland

Will Kerr

Deputy Chief Constable, Local Policing

Police Scotland

Tom Halpin


Scottish Criminal Justice Voluntary Sector Forum

Iona Colvin

Chief Social Work Advisor

Scottish Government

Peter Conlong

Senior Economist, Justice Analytical Services

Scottish Government

Jason Leitch

Clinical Director

Scottish Government

Donna Mackinnon

Deputy Director, Community Justice Division

Scottish Government

Charlie Martin


Scottish Government

Neil Rennick

Director of Justice

Scottish Government

Colin McConnell

Chief Executive

Scottish Prison Service

James Maybe

Chair, Justice Standing Committee

Social Work Scotland

Sheriff Katherine Mackie

Retired Sheriff and Advisor to Community Justice Scotland Board




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