8. Engagement and consultation
8.1 There is a requirement for the statutory partners to work together to prepare a community justice outcomes improvement plan (the plan) for their local authority area, following engagement and consultation with relevant local stakeholders (as locally identified) and appropriate third sector and community bodies locally who are involved in community justice. The governance for such an approach is to be agreed and developed locally.
8.2 When the plan is published the statutory partners must also publish a Participation Statement - this can either be part of the plan or a stand-alone document. Participation Statements are required to demonstrate how statutory partners have engaged the third sector and community bodies involved in community justice in the local authority area in the preparation of the plan. Further information on participation statements is given in chapter 6 of this guidance.
8.3 For the purposes of this guidance the following definitions apply:
8.4 Engagement is when the statutory community justice partners work with stakeholders to agree the potential content or scope of a plan from its earliest stages of preparation.
8.5 Engagement may take various forms, but should include the provision of information on the challenges facing the community, supported by evidence, and should afford the community a realistic opportunity to contribute to prospective solutions. An example of what the spectrum of engagement covers has been produced by West Lothian Council and is provided here.
8.6 Consultation should seek to inform communities on the nature of the proposed plan or action and should take place at a point when the plan is in draft form. Where practical, communities should have the opportunity to play a role in the delivery of a plan at community level - by, for instance, bridging the gap between people directly involved with the community justice system and the wider community. This is more likely to occur when engagement and consultation with communities is sincere.
8.7 Consultation is when a plan, in complete or draft form, is shared with stakeholders for further comment prior to be being formally approved by the statutory community justice partners through their own locally determined decision-making process.
8.8 Engagement and consultation activity for community justice outcomes improvement planning may take place at the same time as wider engagement and consultation on community planning (local outcomes improvement planning) as required under the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 or any other existing engagement and consultation mechanisms.
8.9 Due regard should also be given to any additional guidance in relation to consultation and engagement (and participation) requirements for local outcomes improvement plans.
8.10 For the purposes of this guidance, communities is taken to mean the residents of the local authority area to which the plan applies.
Engagement with victims and witnesses
8.11 Statutory partners will wish to particularly ensure that the needs of victims (and their families) as well as witnesses are taken into account when preparing the plan. In addition to the work of the statutory community justice partners in relation to victims there is also a range of organisations who work with, support and represent victims and people involved in the justice system, as listed in Appendix D.
Engagement with families and children
8.12 The impact on families and children of those who are involved in the community justice system can be difficult. They often experience adverse social and economic consequences such as loss of income, loss of housing. In addition they can suffer from deterioration of their mental and physical health. Children may find themselves facing new care arrangements. Added to these is victimisation, stigma and shame that people often face which can result in their exclusion from social and support networks. Families and children have not been convicted themselves, but are targeted anyway.
8.13 This means they may not seek the help they need and are unlikely to tap into any support available in the community, including transport support services for those who need to visit family members who may be in prison. Many may not believe services can provide holistically for their needs, leading to a mistrust in services interpreted as resistance.
8.14 SPS have developed Standards for Encouraging Family Contact in recognition of the impact and motivating factors that families bring to bear in effecting behaviour change and desistance from offending. Other valuable support can be accessed in the community through linking with the voluntary/third sector given the issues families face cross over a number of areas.
Impact on people who have been arrested or had a conviction and are seeking a service
8.15 People who have been arrested or have a conviction often face particular issues of exclusion or stigma when accessing services. One of the priorities of the National Strategy for Community Justice is to ensure improved access to community justice services for people who have been arrested or had a conviction.
8.16 The statutory partners must ensure that the plan aligns with the National Strategy for Community Justice to achieve "equal access to justice services". All community justice plans must take due account of the needs of service users to ensure that they have equal access to such services include housing, employment, health, advice and support.
8.17 Service users of community justice services are primarily people who have been through the justice system ( i.e. people with convictions or who have been arrested) although the term can also apply to their families and children as well as victims of crime, witnesses and people who have been involved in the system via diversionary and other preventative activities.
Third sector organisations involved in community justice services
8.18 For the purposes of this guidance, third sector bodies involved in community justice are those who provide a general service relating to community justice or who represent or promote the interests of designated people as outlined in the Community Justice (Scotland) Act 2016 - see lists at chapter 2.
The contribution of third sector organisations to community justice
"the third sector is vital to the successful planning and delivery of effective and efficient services for individuals, and I am grateful for the positive contribution that the sector makes to community justice, at both a local and national level, which I hope will be even greater in the future."
- Paul Wheelhouse (Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs), as quoted in the Official Report of the Meeting of the Scottish Parliament,
11 February 2016
8.19 Third sector organisations contribute to the delivery of positive outcomes for individuals, families and communities affected by the community justice system through a range of activities, including:
- the planning, design, delivery, monitoring and evaluation of services for individuals, families and communities
- raising awareness of the issues faced by individuals, families and communities in relation to community justice
- representing and promoting the interests of people affected by community justice
- supporting engagement with people affected by community justice
- contributing to the evidence base about:
- local assets and needs
- a range of community justice issues
- "what works" to improve outcomes and address the identified issues
- contributing to training activities, and sharing learning and practice
Effective engagement with the third sector at a local level
8.20 The new community justice model seeks to improve engagement and collaboration between statutory and third sector partners. The Community Justice (Scotland) Act 2016 therefore sets out requirements for local statutory partners to engage with third sector partners in relation to:
- the preparation of the local community justice plan
- the preparation of reports on performance in relation to community justice outcomes
8.21 To be effective, this engagement should meet the National Standards for Community Engagement.
8.22 It will be up to each local area to determine the appropriate consultation and engagement structure and communication mechanisms for their area. These should be agreed locally through discussion with third sector, community bodies and statutory partners. These structures should be sufficiently resourced to support effective two way flows of communication between statutory and third sector partners, ensuring that information is able to be shared with the wider third sector on a regular basis. Having clear, identified points of contact for both statutory and third sector partners to engage with will be important for supporting strong communications and engagement.
8.24 The new community justice model seeks to establish a more collaborative approach and, in line with the Christie Commission recommendations, it will be essential to more fully involve local communities, including third sector partners as early as possible.
Private sector organisations involved in community justice
8.26 Engagement with the business community can provide valuable opportunities and support for those involved in community justice measures. It is important that the statutory partners, when developing their plans, link in with and build upon existing agreed approaches to local employer engagement.
8.27 This is vital to ensure good
co-ordination and to avoid multiple and unstructured requests for example in relation to employability measures to support hard-to-reach groups of community justice service users.
8.28 A case study on employability is provided below.
The Ayrshire Community Trust and Criminal Justice Community Payback Team work closely together to support those who are subject to an order. This North Ayrshire project assists individuals to maximise their employability potential as it is one of the main barriers to reducing reoffending. CPOs with unpaid work requirements can be a stepping stone in terms of employability and for some individuals it is their first experience of a structured work environment. This project offers opportunities to undertaking unpaid work revolve around increasing the employability of people in the justice system. Criminal Justice retains the statutory responsibility for the supervision of these individuals while they remain subject to their CPOs and The Ayrshire Community Trust offers ongoing support for those who still need additional support when their order has ended to ensure continuity. People's chances of getting a paid job can be enhanced if they are supported in a suitable volunteering opportunity - it can help to build confidence, communication skills and experience of the world of work, and strengthen work-related abilities such as time-keeping, punctuality and dealing with other people.
As such, the Community Payback Team has been working in close partnership with TACT and North Ayrshire Council Economy and Communities in the start of a Demonstration Garden based at Eglinton Park. Placements have been created for those on CP Orders to have the opportunity to gain skills in hard and soft landscaping, growing food and flowers and upcycling of unwanted goods. It is hoped to broaden this partnership with Ayrshire College so that individuals will be able to gain a recognised qualification from the work they are doing.
National Standards for Community Engagement
8.29 Community justice statutory partners and others may wish to use the National Standards for Community Engagement as a framework designed to support an effective community engagement process.
8.30 The Scottish Community Development Centre (has reviewed the National Standards for Community Engagement and these were published in September 2016. The National Standards for Community Engagement are a practical tool to help improve the experience of all participants involved in community engagement. The standards are not compulsory, but they are good practice and have been widely adopted by public bodies, communities across Scotland in Community Planning Partnerships and in other areas of Government.
8.31 The standards originated from people on the front line of community engagement and more than 500 people from the statutory and voluntary sectors, and the communities themselves, were involved in developing and producing them, led by SCDC.
8.31 Community engagement can take many forms. There are many examples of good practice in community engagement including an Engaging Communities Toolkit from West Lothian Council.
8.32 Audit Scotland has also published a report on "Community planning: turning ambition into action" which provides further information and case studies on effective engagement.