Guidance for Local Partners in the New Model for Community Justice

Guidance to support the statutory community justice partners to understand their roles arising from the Community Justice (Scotland) Act 2016.

Appendix B

Justice interventions


This appendix sets out the justice interventions. However, the range of interventions in community justice is much wider than justice. An "intervention" can range from a programme directly or indirectly intended to reduce and prevent further offending; an action aimed at improving the health of people with convictions; a third sector or community service to improve local outcomes, or a justice intervention such as a community sentence.

All community justice partners have an important role to play in ensuring the delivery of effective interventions; whether raising awareness of what works; planning the provision of interventions alongside other partners; or the direct delivery of the interventions themselves. The planning and reporting cycle described in section 6 provides a mechanism for monitoring progress.

Alternatives to prosecution

When a report is submitted by the police to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, prosecution in court is only one of a range of possible options: the Procurator Fiscal has the power to impose a fiscal fine; a fiscal work order; a fixed penalty notice or a fiscal compensation order. There is both UK and International evidence which shows that diverting individuals away from the criminal justice system can be an effective way of preventing further offending. This is especially true when the diversionary intervention is complemented by work designed to address the underlying issues which contributed to the offending behaviour.

Intervention: Fiscal Work Orders

In July 2015 the Scottish Government, along with partners in the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and local authority Criminal Justice Social Work departments, made Fiscal Work Orders ( FWOs) available in all 32 local authorities across Scotland. FWOs provide Procurators Fiscal with the option of offering an "alleged offender" a period of community-based reparative work (of between 10 and 50 hours), completion of which discharges the right to prosecute for the related offence.

By extending the range of measures available to prosecutors in dealing with offences which do not require a court hearing, FWOs are designed to benefit victims and communities through the speedier and more appropriate resolution of cases. They provide constructive community work activities or programmes for "alleged offenders" with the aim of encouraging personal and social responsibility and self-respect.

Intervention: Diversion from prosecution to social work services

In addition to these orders, where an individual is assessed as having a specific criminogenic need which may benefit from a bespoke intervention, they can be formally diverted away from prosecution towards social work services. This form of diversion aims to prevent individuals entering the criminal justice system prematurely; to stop the cycle of offending before it starts; and to address the underlying cause of the offending. Both FWOs and formal diversion are designed to be used with relatively minor offences, where there is sufficient evidence for a prosecution but the Procurator Fiscal believes that such action would not be in the public interest. Participation in these schemes is voluntary.

Alternatives to remand

In recent years the remand population has accounted for approximately 20% of the average daily prison population. Holding individuals on remand does not help to reduce reoffending in the long term as remand prisoners do not receive any rehabilitation programmes, education or work and short-term imprisonment (of any kind) disrupts families and communities, and adversely impacts on employment opportunities and stable housing - the very things that evidence shows supports desistence from offending.

Intervention: Bail supervision

Bail supervision is a social work or third sector service whereby individuals who would otherwise be held on remand are released on bail on the condition that they meet with a bail supervisor a specified number of times a week. The aim of these meetings is to support the accused to comply with the conditions of their bail. Appropriate use of bail supervision helps to reduce the number of individuals held on remand at any given point in time. Bail supervision is not however intended as an alternative to regular bail: it is a costly and intensive option which should only be used only as a direct alternative to custody for individuals who, subject to safeguards in respect of public safety, can be released into the community pending a further court hearing.

Community sentences

The Scottish Government is committed to the principles set out by the Scottish Prison Commission in their 2008 [1] report that:

"Imprisonment should be reserved for people whose offences are so serious that no other form of punishment will do and for those who pose a threat of serious harm to the public."


"To move beyond our reliance on imprisonment as a means of punishing offenders, the Commission recommends that paying back to the community should become the default position in dealing with less serious offenders."

Short-term custodial sentences are ineffective in rehabilitating individuals or reducing the likelihood of their reoffending. Statistics published in March 2015 show that individuals released from a custodial sentence of six months or less are reconvicted more than twice as often as those given a Community Payback Order.

Intervention: Structured deferred sentences

In any given case section 202 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 allows for a court to "defer sentence after conviction for a period and on such conditions as the court may determine". In the majority of cases this period of deferment is typically on the basis that the individual is to be "of good behaviour" as no specific processes are in place to support individuals on whom sentence is deferred. Statistics published by the Scottish Government in March 2015 suggest that sentence was deferred in an average of around 2,500 cases each year over the preceding 3 years.

The Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003 made provision, by amendment to the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968, for Structured Deferred Sentences ( SDS) to be eligible for funds under the ring-fenced funding arrangements for criminal justice social work. SDS offer the courts the option to provide a short period (around 3-6 months), post-conviction but prior to final sentence, of intensive supervision to individuals who have committed low level offences. Aimed at individuals with underlying problems such as drug or alcohol dependency, mental health or learning difficulties or unemployment, they allow for intervention work to be carried out without the imposition of a community sentence (which in many cases would be a higher tariff disposal than was warranted).

SDS are designed to provide courts with an additional sentencing option in dealing with low level offenders by filling a gap in existing court options. They benefit the individual by providing them with support to change their behaviour and address their needs, and in turn can potentially lead to a reduced sentence and an associated reduction in reoffending. At the end of the period of intervention, the court retains the discretion to pass sentence in any manner that would have been appropriate at the time of conviction, but with the benefit of information from the supervising officer in relation to the period of deferral.

Intervention: Community Payback Order

The Community Payback Order ( CPO) requires people who have committed offences to repay communities for the damage caused by their crimes, often by carrying out unpaid work in those very communities. Where appropriate this unpaid work can be combined with structured intervention programmes designed to tackle the underlying causes of an individual's offending behaviour. CPOs offer real opportunities for rehabilitation, for example by allowing for drug or alcohol interventions to be targeted at an individual, requiring them to confront and address their offending behaviour.

The legislation already enshrines the principle that local authorities should consult their communities on the types of unpaid work to be undertaken by those sentenced to an order, and there are hundreds of unpaid work projects taking place across Scotland at any one time providing tangible benefits to local communities.

Intervention: Drug Treatment and Testing Orders

Drug Treatment and Testing Orders ( DTTOs) are a high tariff disposal, targeted specifically at people with serious and on-going drug problems and who would otherwise be facing a custodial sentence. Their aim is to reduce or eliminate an individual's drug misuse in order to make a positive impact on their related offending behaviour. Orders combine drug treatment, a regular testing regime and four weekly reviews by the sentencer.

Individuals made subject to a DTTO are required to display significant levels of commitment and compliance during what is a highly intensive and invasive community disposal. Evidence from historical evaluations suggests that DTTOs can have a positive impact on both drug use and offending: even non-completers demonstrate reduced reconviction rates.

Intervention: Electronic monitoring

Each day in Scotland we currently monitor around 900 people in the community, two-thirds of whom are serving community-based sentences, with the remaining third transitioning from custody to the community. Evidence from other countries shows us that electronic monitoring can help people to maintain connections with their families, their communities and their employment - the very things that short-term sentences are so disruptive of.

We know from international evidence that electronic monitoring is more effective when used as part of a package of measures. Moving from viewing electronic monitoring as purely a form of punishment or control to one which is individually tailored to reflect the needs, risks and circumstances of the individual is our ultimate goal. The current legal framework allows a person who is subject to a community sentence to have both electronic monitoring and a support package in place as part of a CPO with a concurrent Restriction of Liberty Order. Electronic monitoring, when set against a wider package of care, can be used as part of a credible, person-centred community sentence which is effective at reducing reoffending in the longer term.


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