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.

Aim 2: Ensure that robust and high quality community interventions and public protection arrangements are consistently available across Scotland

While we are committed to shifting the balance towards greater use of trauma-informed and person-centred community interventions which reflect the appropriate level of risk – and our long term ambition is that people should only be held in custody when they present a risk of serious harm – public protection is our first priority. Therefore, we must ensure that there are robust and high quality community-based interventions, which support rehabilitation and help to reduce the number of future victims, including alternatives to remand, electronic monitoring and community sentences. The awareness of, and confidence in, these interventions must also be improved, particularly among the judiciary, prosecutors, victims of crime and the general public. Restorative justice, which, in the majority of cases, must be led by those who have been harmed, can also provide the opportunity for safe communication between people harmed by crime and offending, and those responsible for that harm. This will improve outcomes for individuals who are able to remain within more supportive environments and ensure that victims and communities feel safe and protected.

Over the duration of this strategy community justice partners will:

3. Support the use of robust alternatives to remand by ensuring high quality bail services are consistently available and delivered effectively

The safety of the public and people affected by crime is a priority and remand will always be necessary in some cases. However, time on remand can disrupt families and communities, and adversely affects peoples' health, employment opportunities and housing – the factors that are associated with reoffending. With the remand population rising to around 30% of the overall prison population in April 2022, there is a need to further strengthen community-based alternatives to remand to ensure bail services are consistently available where courts decide that bail is appropriate.

Statutory community justice agencies, along with local third sector partners, should work collaboratively to ensure the appropriate provision of robust alternatives to remand across all 32 local authority areas in Scotland. This includes providing a bail supervision service which meets the standards of provision set out in National Guidance, and enabling access to electronically monitored bail. In light of the increase in the numbers of individuals accessing bail supervision in the two years before the COVID-19 pandemic, partners must ensure that operational capacity is strengthened and that all staff delivering bail services are appropriately trained.

4. Strengthen options for safe and supported management in the community by increasing and widening the use of electronic monitoring technologies

Electronic monitoring is an integral part of the justice pathway. Its expanded use creates opportunities to help people integrate into the community, and allows for management of individuals in the community. To support its use, partners should continue to improve information sharing and reporting to allow for appropriate assessments and provision of services for individuals.

The approach to development and to gathering robust evidence on the uses of electronic monitoring, including from communities, victims of crime and service users, will be a collaborative one led by Scottish Government. It will involve a range of justice partners and help inform future development.

To widen the availability of electronic monitoring, it is anticipated that new technologies, such as satellite tracking (also known as GPS) and remote substance monitoring will be introduced. These will provide more opportunities for managing and supporting individuals within their communities. Strong engagement between health and justice partners will be required to underpin any use of remote substance monitoring. All the while building, maintaining and strengthening relationships with third sector organisations, to ensure victims of crime are represented.

5. Ensure that those given community sentences are supervised and supported appropriately to protect the public, promote desistence from offending and enable rehabilitation by delivering high quality, consistently available, trauma-informed services and programmes

Recovery of capacity in the justice system and community justice services following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic remains a priority. Our ambitions are however greater than returning the system to pre-pandemic levels. We want to see a greater availability of high quality community orders which are as effective as possible and which improve outcomes for individuals, families and their communities. Effective interventions require proactive involvement across community justice partners and the third sector, and the consideration of the local needs and priorities of different communities. Individuals can have complex needs and a range of support has to be considered, including from a whole family perspective. This requires collaboration across services and partners.

Working both within existing resources, where possible, and with any additional funding available, community justice partners should take steps to increase the quality and range of interventions. These should include support aligned with assessment of need, including support in relation to addiction, mental health and wellbeing, with interventions focussed on the causes of offending and opportunities to improve transitions to positive destinations such as employment, training and further education. Partners should also work with the Scottish Government to develop plans to better support people with substance use issues in community justice, which will be informed by the recommendations of the Drug Deaths Taskforce.

Community justice partners, when they come together as part of community justice partnerships, should ensure that partnership work has appropriate links to MAPPA (Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements) and MARAC (Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences) to understand areas of mutual interest. This does not mean duplicating functions, rather it is about ensuring local services are not developed in isolation. Our ambition also is to expand the coverage of existing national programmes that support public protection (MF2C and Caledonian), that match the risk and need profile identified nationally, and reduce the prospect of further harm. A partnership approach should be taken to programme roll out and redesign and partners will contribute, including through data held, to their evaluation and development.

6. Ensure restorative justice is available across Scotland to all those who wish to access it by promoting and supporting the appropriate and safe provision of available services

Restorative justice supports the exploration and delivery of safe, voluntary and facilitated communication between people harmed by crime and offending and those responsible for that harm. Consistent, high-quality, trauma-informed restorative justice can empower individuals and communities impacted by harmful behaviour and assist in their recovery, and can encourage those who have caused harm to reflect on the impact of their actions, helping to reduce recidivism.

We recognise that people harmed may request access to restorative justice in sensitive cases involving sexual harm and coercive control. We are working with partners to design services to respond appropriately to these requests. Restorative justice will only be offered in such cases where the request comes from the person harmed and they can stop the process at any time. A trauma-informed and comprehensive risk framework will be created for facilitating these cases that will have the individual needs and safety of the person harmed at the centre.

The vision of the Restorative Justice Action Plan includes a commitment to having restorative justice services available across Scotland to all those who wish to access it, at a time that is appropriate to the people and case involved. While the achievement of this commitment is ultimately the responsibility of the Scottish Government, the model for delivery of restorative justice in Scotland requires an effective link with community justice partners and local communities to support implementation. Community justice partners should support the aims and objectives of the Action Plan, by raising awareness of restorative justice services which are available locally, ensuring that staff in relevant services are attending national awareness and facilitation training, and that any restorative justice service within the area is supported to make contact with relevant local support services to help address the needs of those accessing (or wishing to access) restorative justice.



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