Evaluation of Sixteen Women's Community Justice Services in Scotland

This document presents the findings of an evaluation of sixteen women’s community justice services in Scotland. The evaluation was conducted by the Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services (IRISS) during 2014-15.

9 Future Development of Services


This section describes WCJSs' plans to develop their service in future and comments on sustainability.

9.1 When asked how they saw their service developing in the future, practitioners discussed the need for additional resources, e.g. more staff, bigger/ more suitable premises, and stronger partnerships with housing services, prisons and courts. One WCJS talked about the potential of moving from working with predominantly voluntary women to taking on case responsibility for all women on statutory orders (as many WCJSs do currently).

9.2 There was support amongst some WCJS practitioners and women to extend support to all vulnerable women beyond criminal justice. A number of services had been recognised more broadly for their innovative ways of working with women and received awards for their achievements.

Sustainability of services

9.3 Funding for WCJSs was a one-off development grant, and WCJSs were asked to include plans for long-term sustainability in their initial proposals to the Scottish Government. Local negotiations with partners about funding were still on-going at the time of the final phase of fieldwork (Autumn 2014).

9.4 On the 28th January 2015, the Justice Minister announced an additional £1.5 million funding to support community projects for women who offend.[101] At the time of writing (April 2015), the Scottish Government was considering proposals from new women's services and existing services who had indicated challenges in sustaining their project for the coming year.

9.5 Most of the 16 WCJSs planned to continue at least part of their service for an extended period of time with some funding available from core Criminal Justice budgets. In pre-existing services (particularly CJSW-based ones such as Fife and Dundee), the reconfiguration of staff into dedicated women's teams had begun before this new tranche of funding. However, some WCJSs reported challenges in securing funding from mainstream services to sustain non-social work/ multi-disciplinary posts that had been supported by the Scottish Government money, e.g. housing officers and nurses.

9.6 In the early stages of the evaluation, WCJSs were optimistic about their ability to secure funding for their non-social work staff, as the women in their services represented a 'hard to reach' group that also met their partner organisations' target population.

9.7 The short-term nature of the funding and the evaluation timeframe presented a challenge for staff in some areas to gather sufficient evidence to support further funding applications particularly as the service was just 'bedding in' (see Table 12 below). Nevertheless, some WCJSs had secured funding from partner organisations to extend the contracts of some of their multi-disciplinary professionals. The short-term nature of funding also impacted on practice, with staff anxious about job security and cautious about creating a demand for something that would potentially disappear.

9.8 Although there was interest in expanding WCJSs to other groups of vulnerable women, many practitioners were concerned about the potential for dilution of their (intensive) approach when/if referrals increased. The outreach and holistic approaches of WCJSs rely on the flexibility and availability of staff. Therefore, sustaining this approach to meet future demand would require additional resources to maintain small caseloads.

9.9 Several practitioners felt that the Scottish Government funding had provided a symbolic 'endorsement' to reconfigure services for women at a local level that helped WCJSs get strategic buy-in from partners (see section 3.25).


Email: Tamsyn Wilson

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