National Strategy for Community Justice

This revised National Strategy for Community Justice sets the national direction for community justice by building on progress made to date. It is designed to provide a clear roadmap for future improvement work, by highlighting key areas for partners to focus on.

What is community justice?

Community justice is principally about organisations working together to ensure that people who have offended address the underlying causes of their behaviour, and pay back to the community where appropriate. It aims to encourage rehabilitation, reduce reoffending, and protect the public, leading to fewer victims and safer communities.

This requires a strong partnership-working approach at each point of the justice system, from the point of arrest, through to integration into the community.

Public protection remains our first priority, with robust risk management systems in place to ensure that, where appropriate, those who have committed offences can be managed safely and effectively in the community. In the long term, our ambition is to use prison only for those who pose a risk of serious harm.

A legal definition of 'community justice' is provided in section 1 of the Community Justice (Scotland) Act 2016 (the Act). In addition, Community Justice Scotland has produced a framing toolkit to support people and organisations shape how they speak, write and communicate about community justice in ways that can increase public awareness and confidence in it as a sentencing option.

Delivery of this strategy

Working towards each of the four aims in the National Strategy for Community Justice (referred to throughout as 'the strategy') is vital for achieving our ambitions for community justice, and improving community connections and wellbeing. The Vision for Justice in Scotland contains evidence that underpins our approach to community justice, and as with the Vision, ensuring that all parts of the justice system deliver person-centred services, embed trauma-informed practices and take account of the needs of victims of crime is central to the strategy.

This strategy should be read in conjunction with the associated delivery plan (expected later in 2022), and links closely to the Outcomes, Performance and Improvement Framework (the OPIF) (section 17 of the Act). The OPIF determines the outcomes which are to be achieved in the area of each local authority and indicators to be used to measure performance in achieving the outcomes, and is a tool designed to support improvement across the community justice landscape.

The delivery of community justice services requires appropriate resourcing, but can also support prevention and deliver improved outcomes for individuals and communities. Decisions about funding and investment will be considered as part of the ongoing work to deliver the strategy. Consideration will also be given – in close collaboration with a range of partners – to how the strategy and model of community justice can support and work effectively with emerging proposals for a National Care Service.

Community justice partners

A broad range of partners contribute to the achievement of community justice outcomes, including statutory partners, as defined in the Act, communities and the third sector, who play a vital role both in the planning and delivery of services.

The statutory partners for community justice as outlined in the Act are:

  • Chief Constable of Police Scotland
  • Health Boards
  • Integration Joint Boards for Health and Social Care
  • Local Authorities
  • Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service
  • Scottish Fire and Rescue Service
  • Scottish Ministers (i.e. Scottish Prison Service, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service)
  • Skills Development Scotland

The Community Justice (Scotland) Act 2016 does not require statutory partners to carry out their duties in a way that would conflict with existing statutory duties.

Community justice partners acting jointly at a local level are frequently referred to as a 'community justice partnership', this term is therefore used in this strategy.

Community Justice Scotland is the national leadership body for community justice in Scotland, and has a statutory duty to promote the strategy. Community Justice Scotland also holds a statutory duty to monitor the performance of each local authority area in the achievement of nationally and locally-determined community justice outcomes. It also has powers to identify and promote good practice; provide advice, guidance and assistance to the community justice partnerships; and to make national and local improvement recommendations where appropriate.

We also recognise that collaborative working across other partnerships, including Community Planning Partnerships, Community Safety Partnerships, Alcohol and Drug Partnerships (ADPs) and Violence Against Women (VAW) Partnerships, is key to improving outcomes and reducing duplication. Given the wider work being undertaken in other forums, the focus of this strategy is from the point of arrest onwards and we would encourage community justice partnerships to focus their action from this point onwards, as opposed to on primary prevention.

Strategic context

The strategy complements the Scottish Government's Vision for Justice in Scotland published in 2022, which sets out our vision for a just, safe and resilient Scotland. The vision is aligned with the Scottish Government's National Performance Framework (NPF).

The Vision for Justice in Scotland is based on evidence of what we know works to achieve the long term outcomes set out. The two key transformation priorities apply to the approach to community justice in Scotland, these are:

  • ensuring justice services embed person-centred and trauma informed practices, and
  • working across public services to improve outcomes for individuals, focussing on prevention and early intervention.

Specifically, the National Strategy for Community Justice supports and drives forward action in relation to the outcomes set out under the aim to 'support rehabilitation, use custody only where there is no alternative and work to reduce reoffending and revictimisation'.

The delivery plan for the National Strategy for Community Justice will contain time-limited deliverables, detailing the responsibilities of the Scottish Government and community justice partners, to drive improvement nationally towards the aims in the strategy and ultimately what is detailed in the Vision for Justice in Scotland. There are other priorities being progressed across Government and by community justice partners, operating alongside this strategy, which relate to community justice that the strategy will not necessarily focus on but will reflect, including the following:

Victims of crime

The strategy will reflect the ongoing work to deliver person-centred and trauma-informed services to victims and survivors of crime. As set out in the Vision for Justice in Scotland, this will see victims take a more prominent role in cases, experiencing fewer delays and being supported in their recovery. The strategy and delivery plan will also support the commitment in the Restorative Justice Action Plan, published in 2019, to ensuring restorative justice services are available across Scotland by 2023.

Youth Justice

The number of young people going through the justice system has reduced dramatically in recent years – and community interventions have played a key role. The strategy will not focus on youth justice but will take account of the Scottish Government's Vision for Youth Justice, and its accompanying Action Plan. This represents a shared foundation between the Scottish Government and partners to continue to support the agenda to keep children out of the justice system and promote the use of the Whole System Approach and community-based interventions.

Violence prevention

Our overall aim for Scotland is to reduce the number of people affected by crime, including violent crime, and reduce the number of people ending up in the justice system. We want to prevent violence from happening in the first instance, and when it does occur, to reduce the harm as soon as possible. The aims of this strategy will play a crucial role in helping us achieve this and will complement the National Violence Prevention Framework to be published in 2022. This framework will consider the available evidence and identify policy priorities for our violence reduction partners to work towards, to prevent violence and repeated incidents, to help make Scotland's communities safer.

Women in justice

The strategy will reflect Equally Safe, the joint Scottish Government and COSLA strategy to prevent and eradicate violence against women and girls in Scotland. In addition, and in common with the Vision for Justice in Scotland, the strategy will respond to the strategic examination that the Minister for Community Safety is currently undertaking, supported by a Women's Leadership Panel, to address gender inequality and improve women's experiences within the justice system. It is anticipated that the Panel will report in 2023.

Trauma Informed Practice

The strategy will reflect the Scottish Government's ambition for a trauma-informed and trauma-responsive workforce and services across Scotland. Embedding trauma-informed approaches will ensure that our services recognise the prevalence of trauma and adversity, realise when people are affected by trauma, and respond in ways that reduce re-traumatising. Since 2018, the Scottish Government has invested in a National Trauma Training Programme (NTTP) to support all sectors of the workforce to further progress and embed trauma-informed systems and services. Relationship-based practice that respects resilience, prevents further harm and supports recovery is intrinsic to trauma-informed approaches.



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