The National Strategy for Community Justice was revised in June 2022. The strategy sets out the national direction for community justice by building on progress made to date and emphasises the Scottish Government's longstanding aim to encourage a person-centred, trauma-informed, and rehabilitative approach. It recognises that while public protection is paramount, that is entirely consistent with widening the use of community-based interventions and sentences, which can be more effective in reducing reoffending and assisting with rehabilitation while still protecting victims, the public and robustly managing risk.
The strategy sets out four national aims and thirteen priority actions which the Scottish Government and community justice partners should seek to deliver over the duration of the strategy. The purpose of this delivery plan is to expand on the strategy by setting out a number of tangible, time-limited deliverables, detailing exactly what work will be undertaken to drive improvement nationally for each of the aims and priority actions contained in the strategy.
It is envisioned that a broad range of partners will contribute to this work, including the third sector, which we recognise will play a key part in the achievement of many of the deliverables.
The Scottish Government also acknowledges the immense, highly skilled and unique contribution made by the community justice workforce to support individuals and families across Scotland. The delivery plan recognises and takes account of the significant pressures faced around increasing workloads, staff shortages, and the more complex needs of those being supported – all exacerbated by the COVID pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis.
The delivery plan has been prepared in consultation with representatives of community justice partners and its contents reflect the pressure that delivery partners are under. When developing the delivery plan, we have focused principally on opportunities for enhancing partnership working, helping to ensure the spread of best practice, and on ensuring greater visibility for ongoing work. The delivery plan does not currently focus on areas of work which would require significant new investment, however future iterations will seek, where possible, to build upon the existing deliverables to identify new projects that accord with the aims of the National Strategy for Community Justice. We will continue to work in collaboration to maximise the use of available resources.
As with the strategy, the delivery plan is designed to complement 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 delivery plan will consequently drive improvement nationally towards the aims in the strategy and ultimately what is detailed in the Vision for Justice in Scotland.
The delivery plan also highlights links with other relevant policy areas and strategy documents where it is considered to be helpful in providing context. As with the strategy, the delivery plan takes account of Equally Safe, the joint Scottish Government and COSLA strategy to prevent and eradicate violence against women and girls in Scotland. This sets out a vision to work with stakeholders to prevent violence from occurring in the first place; as well as to build the capability of specialist services to support survivors and those at risk; and strengthen the justice response to victims, witnesses or perpetrators of crime. We also recognise that women experience the justice system differently from men and that there is a need to promote greater understanding of gender. A Women's Justice Leadership Panel, established in January 2022, has brought together expert women from all aspects of the justice system to discuss the experience and unique needs of women and what this means for justice processes, including the interaction with trauma. The outcomes from the Panel, and their key findings, will be vital in continuing our understanding and awareness of gender and its impact across the justice system. The delivery plan will also 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.
In relation to the deliverables set out under aim 1 of the strategy, it should be noted that while the effective operation of diversion from prosecution requires a multi-agency approach as highlighted in the deliverables, prosecution policy remains a matter for the Lord Advocate and the decision to refer an accused person for an assessment of suitability for diversion is one solely for prosecutors in COPFS.
The delivery plan will be continually monitored and updated twice a year. Progress towards the deliverables will be monitored by a Community Justice Programme Board which brings together community justice partners at a national level. The Board will provide the delivery and accountability mechanism for a change programme, within which the delivery plan will be a key element.
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