Community Justice Needs Assessment and Data Sources
Community justice needs assessment
To consider the specific community justice issues in the local authority area, the statutory partners should draw up a community justice needs assessment. This will be based on the particular needs and characteristics or "profile" of the local authority area, for example alcohol and drug profiles, health and crime profiles, housing needs, opportunities for education, training and employment, using existing available data sources.
Planning and performance are interlinked, so the performance reporting process should be seen as an integral part of plan-act-review cycle. The initial stage for this will include understanding the local context and setting baselines to guide planning and performance reporting.
As statutory Community Justice Partners take on their responsibilities under the new model for community justice, they will wish to understand the current picture for community justice in their area. This will likely include:
- Mapping how services with a contribution to make to improving
community justice outcomes are currently planned and delivered
- Determining how partners currently view their contribution
- Setting out any shared services,
co-produced services and partnership services
- Understanding the level of need in their area and setting priorities for improvement;
- Assessing how they are currently performing against each of the common outcomes, using the relevant indicators and thereby setting their baseline for further assessment and improvement
To consider the specific community justice issues in the local authority area and to help understand which outcomes require specific improvement action, the statutory partners should first draw up a community justice needs assessment. This may also be referred to as a baseline needs assessment.
In the first instance, this will likely be developed using existing available data sources and be based on the particular needs and characteristics or "profile" of the local authority area, for example alcohol and drug profiles, health and crime profiles, housing needs, opportunities for education, training and employment and so on.
There is a range of key high-level information and resources available nationally which will assist community justice partners in their planning. There will also be a range of activities carried out locally which should in time allow the build up of more relevant locality-level information. On the whole, this process should build on existing needs assessment and profiling work carried out as part of community planning, although the particular emphasis and level of information available will depend on the strength of existing partnership working and how this feeds into a shared assessment of need in relation to community justice.
Potentially, while there may be some common core published information that each area can use to inform their community justice needs assessment, every area may also give an additional flavour by undertaking some work locally and this may be done as a one-off exercise for baseline information or it may be viewed as beneficial on an on going basis.
This local activity will be supported by training opportunities, some of which is already on the ground to support community planning (for example, the Scottish Community Safety Network). Other opportunities for development include facilitating practice networks/peer benchmarking and further guidance, as well as the Knowledge Hub. Going forward, Community Justice Scotland will establish a hub for innovation, learning and development.
Practice example 1
Health and community justice. Relevant information may be generated by alcohol and drug partnerships, mental health services, use of A&E, etc, but is difficult to pull this information together specifically for those involved in the criminal justice system. There are several levels at which this might be addressed, including:
- Using available information and evidence about what is generally known about the needs of those in particular contexts (serving custodial sentences, for example). This provides a good picture at a strategic level and does not place additional data collection and reporting burdens on partner organisations
- Identifying particular groups of "high resource" individuals who may be involved in a range of services in order to develop more targeted working practices to address complex needs. This approach is likely to involve joint case management along with the data sharing required to deliver this type of service effectively
- Organising local data summits to pool expertise and understand the data that currently informs the planning and delivery of services and setting priorities. Much of this will already inform existing community/health and social care/alcohol and drug partnership plans, and other relevant strategies
Practice example 2
A community analyst is developing profiles on each of the criminogenic needs. These will be analysed and evaluated using risk assessment techniques to identify priorities and produce a strategic assessment. All statutory partners and those with voluntary sector input are involved in the process.
The community justice needs assessment will incorporate existing relevant strategic assessments, such as community planning profiling, local area profiles and the integrated joint board strategic assessment. So much of what will be in the CJOIP already exists in other strategic plans.
A mapping exercise is also being carried out of relevant services that are provided by public and voluntary sector partners to identify gaps/overlaps in service provision. Other stakeholders in the community, including users and those impacted by crime, will be involved as part of the needs assessment, and this process is being supported by the Community Justice Authority.
There is a range of key high-level information and resources available nationally which will assist community justice partners in their planning. These include:
- The Scottish Government justice dashboard
- The Scottish Public Health Observatory (particularly the on-line profiles tool)
- The statistics.gov.scot site which provides access to a wide range of official statistics and data query facilities
- Level of Service/Case Management Inventory in practice reports produced by the Risk Management Authority
- The Improvement Service guidance for community planning and performance indicators programme, which include a range of resources (the community profiler tool is currently being redeveloped and much of the information covered is available on the Public Health Observatory or statistics.gov.scot). The recently developed community planning outcomes profile is now available for partnerships to use and has been uploaded on the Knowledge Hub. The profile will provide a consistent basis for CPP Boards to profile their local area in relation to core measures of outcomes and measures of inequalities of outcomes, and offers an overarching, high-level tool to assess if the lives of communities are improving over time. The profile is not yet in the public domain and has been shared at this stage with community planning colleagues as a "soft launch". During this next phase, the Improvement Service will continue to engage with partnerships to refine the profile and test out how the information might be used to support decision making and engagement with local communities.
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