Coronavirus (COVID-19) recovery - public health, public services and justice system reforms: consultation analysis

Independent analysis of the responses to the consultation on supporting Scotland's recovery from coronavirus. This relates to the Coronavirus (Recovery and Reform) (Scotland) Bill.


Background and policy context

In the Programme for Government for 2021-22, the First Minister announced a Covid Recovery Bill that will embed some of the reforms made in response to the pandemic while considering what further provisions might be made to enhance Scotland’s ability to respond to any similar events in the future.

As one of the steps to harness lessons from the pandemic, the Government is committed to reviewing the impact of Covid on the Scottish statute book: removing measures no longer needed in order to be able to respond to the current pandemic; keeping those where there is demonstrable benefit to the people of Scotland; and considering what new provisions might be made.

A consultation on ‘Covid recovery: public health, public services and justice system reforms’ opened on 17th August 2021 and closed on 9th November 2021. It contained 86 questions covering issues including alcohol licensing, bankruptcy, education, criminal justice, legal aid and the registration of births and deaths. The majority of the 43 closed questions asked respondents whether a provision should be extended or made permanent; the Scottish Government’s proposal for each provision (i.e. permanence or extension, or in two cases, develop) is shown in brackets in the question headings in this report. Respondents were given a full range of answer options at each question and optional free text boxes allowed respondents to express reasons for their views.

The consultation was supplemented by a workshop held on 26th October 2021 in conjunction with Disability Equality Scotland[1] - a summary of the views expressed in the workshop is included in Appendix A.

The consultation is an opportunity for the Scottish Government to understand the diverse perspectives, expertise and experience that individuals and stakeholders can contribute to the Bill, as Scotland moves towards a fair, safe and secure recovery from the pandemic.

Profile of respondents

In total, 2,905 valid consultation responses[2] were received. Most were submitted via the online consultation platform, Citizen Space. Those received in an alternative format, for example, a PDF document, were entered into Citizen Space by the Scottish Government. Full responses to the consultation, where permission for publication was granted, can be found on the Scottish Government’s website.

The vast majority of responses – 2,775 or 96% - were from individuals. The remaining 4% comprised 130 organisational responses from 124 organisations[3].

Appendix D details the profile of organisations that took part in the consultation. The largest share of these responses came from organisations in the Legal and Justice sector (27), followed by Local Authorities (17) and Health and Social Care organisations (13).

Analysis approach

The Lines Between was commissioned to provide robust, independent analysis of the consultation responses. This report presents the range of views expressed by consultation respondents. A public consultation means anyone can express their views; individuals and organisations with an interest in the topic are more likely to respond than those without. This self-selection means the views of consultation respondents do not necessarily represent of the views of the population.

Quantitative analysis approach

The main purpose of consultation analysis is not to identify how many people held particular views, but to understand the full range of views expressed. For this reason the analysis is primarily qualitative.

However, the analysis of responses to each question begins with a summary of the quantitative closed question data. This shows the percentage who support the proposal (i.e. those who support either permanence or a longer extension[4]), and the percentage who are opposed, unsure, have no view or did not answer. These percentages have been included to illustrate the range of views submitted by consultation respondents. As this sample is self-selecting, no conclusions can be drawn about the level of support or opposition among the general public.

Not everyone who responded to the consultation answered every question. This means the base number varies by question, and that percentages cannot be compared across questions. Because of this, the quantitative results for questions related to the proposals are presented in tables with four rows which show percentages among different groups. The abbreviated row labels in each table correspond to the following four groups:

i. “All respondents” - all 2,905 consultation respondents, both organisations and individuals, including those who did not answer or held no view;

ii. “All giving a view” - all respondents, both organisations and individuals, who responded to the question, i.e. excluding those who did not answer or held no view. The base number for this group is also shown in each table;

iii. “All org responses” - all 130 organisational consultation responses only[5], including those who did not answer or held no view; and

iv. “All orgs giving a view” - All organisations only who responded to the question, i.e. excluding those who did not answer or held no view. The base number for this group is also shown in each table.

For the final questions (Q34-Q43) the tables present the results among all 2,905 consultation respondents (both individuals and organisations), and among all 130 organisational responses only. The number of open comments given is also shown in all tables. A full breakdown of the quantitative results is provided in Appendix C.

Qualitative analysis approach

The qualitative analysis outlines the key themes identified in responses to each question. The analyst team coded each response against a coding framework which was developed based on a review of the consultation questions and a sample of responses. In a small number of instances where alternative format responses contained information that did not align to specific questions, analysts exercised judgement about the most relevant place to include this material for analysis purposes.

Given the range of topics included in the consultation, responses spanned a huge variety of views and themes. Some responses did not engage with or link their responses directly to the proposals under discussion. This report focuses on analysis of comments which addressed the consultation questions. Brief summaries of views are provided where large numbers commented on issues beyond the scope of the consultation.

A few organisations provided very detailed responses relating to their particular expertise. There is not scope within this report to accurately summarise these responses; they have been referenced where possible. Where appropriate, quotes from both individuals and organisations have been included to illustrate key points and to provide useful examples, insights and contextual information. Full responses to the consultation, where permission for publication was granted, can be found on the Scottish Government’s website.

Consistent themes across consultation responses

There was significant repetition of views within and across responses, particularly in comments which expressed opposition to the proposals. Several themes in comments were consistently evident, regardless of the consultation question. To avoid repetition these themes are summarised in Chapter 6. This allows for a fuller analysis at each question of specific reasons for support and opposition to a particular proposal.

Weight of opinion

While qualitative analysis of open-ended questions does not permit the quantification of results, we signify the weight of a particular view using the following framework which indicates which are the most common or prevalent themes across responses:

  • The most common theme / the most prevalent theme in responses (and second most common) i.e., the most frequently identified.
  • ‘Many’ respondents (more than 50) another prevalent theme.
  • ‘Several’ respondents (20-49) i.e., a recurring theme but not most common.
  • 'Some' respondents (10-19) i.e., another theme.
  • 'A few' or 'a small number' of respondents (fewer than 10); a less common theme.
  • 'Two/One respondents'; a singular comment or view expressed by two respondents.

Report Structure

This report is set out as follows:

  • Chapter 2 covers Q1-Q4 which address public health resilience.
  • Chapter 3 covers Q5-Q22 about public services and justice system reform.
  • Chapter 4 addresses Q23-Q33 about the impact of Covid in the justice system.
  • Chapter 5 focuses on Q34, covering other proposals for legislation.
  • Chapter 6 summarises the consistent themes opposing the measures which are evident across the consultation.
  • Conclusions are set out in Chapter 7.
  • Appendix A addresses Q35-Q43, covering human rights and impact assessments.
  • Additional information on a small number of questions can be found in Appendix B.
  • A quantitative summary of the consultation questions is included as Appendix C.
  • A profile of the organisational responses in included as Appendix D.



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