Cross Justice Working Group on Race and Workforce: progress report

Progress report from short life working group set up to provide a strategic and cohesive approach to tackling barriers to employment across the justice system and to support cross system learning.

Progress to date

A baseline audit was carried out to understand the effectiveness of past and current initiatives undertaken within the Justice sector in relation to race and workforce. The audit serves as a snapshot of the current position and supports our understanding of what we know about race and our workforce across the Justice sector. The audit demonstrates areas of good practice, which can offer peer learning across the Justice sector in Scotland. At this early stage, the Group focused on Scotland and recognises that there is evidence from other parts of the UK and Internationally that will add value. In addition, the Group is cognisant of the wider public sector work being done in this area. The snapshot of the current position in Scotland and the wider public sector work is set out in the Annexes to this report.

To support this work, evidence was provided by the Justice organisations. The evidence shows that each organisation has its own equality and diversity framework to reflect the needs and requirements of their individual organisation. Understandably, these frameworks are being managed and delivered over different timeframes. This has highlighted both the different stage that each organisation is at in delivering its commitments and the different approaches being taken. However, it is clear from this evidence, that all Justice organisations aspire to have a workforce which is representative of the people and communities of Scotland that they serve.

Further evidence was provided by the Justice organisations as part of a mapping exercise to determine what support networks are in place within each Justice organisation for minority ethnic groups. This has provided an overview of the sector and identifies where gaps in support provision exist, and where support needs to be strengthened. This overview provides an opportunity to provide support and guidance for those organisations that have limited capacity.

A research sub-group was established to undertake some focus groups to ascertain how people from minority ethnic backgrounds experience being employed by a justice organisation in Scotland. The research took place in May and June of this year, and included BME volunteers from the following Justice organisations: Police Scotland; Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, Scottish Prison Service, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service. The research is expected to conclude during the summer and published thereafter. The outcomes from the research will feed into the next phase of this work.

Alongside the research a literature review has been carried out. This is preliminary literature review based on an initial search on literature pertaining to Race and the Workforce in Scotland and is at Annex F. This was completed through using institutional and internet search engines. An audit of literature by a concurrent cross-justice working group on Race Data and Evidence group indicated that in relation to the organisational issues or workforce limited research or evidence was currently available on critical issues on race and workforce diversity. The audit identified two key research/reports of relevance (item 1 and 2 in the table at Annex F).

A broader search identified relevant documentation about workforce diversity in the UK. A more extensive literature review is required but there was limited research about many sectors with little information found about legal and court services, there was also limited information on the prison service. More was available in the police and fire service. The studies/reports identified here however did highlight some key issues that were deemed of relevance to ensuring workforce diversity in the justice sector in a Scottish Context. The list is not exhaustive but aims to provide some initial analysis of the current situation and future requirements. A broader literature search could include studies from other jurisdictions' and these are available but not included here.

Most literature recognises the progress made in some areas of the justice sector in relation to increased recruitment and increased number of BME staff in organisations. Key messages are that while numerically the overall picture has improved and diversity is more embedded into organisational policies and processes, gaps remain in knowledge/research in particular areas. Most notably these are in relation to decision making processes over why people decide to stay or leave the organisations (retention). Often initiatives to recruit more diverse workforces go unevaluated, so there is limited knowledge of why people apply and then fail to progress any further into the organisation. Most of the literature reviewed here identified issues with progression and promotion within the justice system and the lack of BME staff in leadership positions and roles. The reasons for the lack of progression, retention and leadership are often related to organisational culture and other organisational barriers. There is a lack of available research overall into why these challenges exist or what programmes and support are effective to improve the progression, retention, and promotion of BME staff.



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