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National Strategy for Community Justice - review: consultation analysis

Analysis of responses to the National Strategy for Community Justice review consultation 2021.


4. Impact of the strategy

This section asked questions about the overall impact of the current strategy.

Question 10: Thinking about the strategy overall, to what extent has it led to collaboration in the effective and strategic use of resources (including, as referenced in the current strategy, by sharing staff, expertise, information, property, and finance) across the community justice sector?

Forty-one respondents responded to this closed question. Of those that responded:

  • 5% answered 'to a great extent'
  • 80% answered 'to some extent'
  • 15% answered 'not at all'

Forty-two respondents responded to the open 'Please explain your response further' section of the question, and the following themes emerged:

Theme identified Number of comments relating to this theme
Reflections on collaborative working 20
Challenges 17
Local level work and good practice examples 16
Suggestions for a revised strategy 10

Reflections on collaborative working

A number of respondents shared reflections on collaborative working within community justice, with some stating that the current strategy has helped to identify and bring together relevant partners, but that more clearly defined roles, responsibility and accountability that is well understood and effective, is needed.

Some stated that all partners do not have the capacity to fully engage, and that the value of collaborative work needs to be clearly highlighted. The role of Community Justice Scotland and the third sector in terms of collaboration in the effective and strategic use of resources was also raised by some.

Challenges

A number of respondents suggested that there has not been a major shift in the strategic and effective use of resources in the sector, and highlighted a number of challenges, particularly in relation to the sharing of financial resources. It was suggested that these challenges include:

  • A lack of sufficient funding, and the current funding model for community justice
  • The current approach and process for developing and commissioning services
  • The increasing pressure on resources due to the pandemic
  • Consistency and availability of data and information about services
  • The potential impact of the National Care Service

Local level work and good practice examples

Some respondents noted that the collaborative use of resources has been successful locally, and shared examples of good practice. Some stated that the strategy underpins and is reflected in local partnerships and plans, whereas others stated that it is not clear whether the strategy has impacted local level successes. The Care Inspectorate also noted its self-evaluation of community justice partnerships led in partnership with HMICS between 2018 and 2020 which specifically focussed on Quality Indicator 8.1 'Effective use and management of resources':

'Using the themes in this indicator partnerships considered how well they were leveraging resources; the effectiveness of joint deployment and expenditure of resources and the extent to which they were achieving best value. Partnerships who had undertaken a strategic assessment of needs were well placed to identify the resources required to meet needs or reduce the need for expensive, specialist services. There were examples of innovation to deliver sustainable and resource efficient services, including co-location and an emphasis on early intervention and prevention. Third sector partners played a central role in identifying and leveraging available resources. Strategic approaches to joint budgeting and deployment were in the early stages of consideration and examples of partnerships mapping the totality of available resources were limited.'

Some examples of good practice shared by respondents include the co-location of services for the benefit of service users, jointly funding a new post and working collaboratively across agencies to focus resource on improving pathways, early access to support and ultimately outcomes.

Suggestions for a revised strategy

A number of respondents suggest improvements and revisions that could be made to the strategy to enhance the collaborative use of resources, including:

  • Setting clear priorities and actions for each partner, aligned to the OPIF to measure effectiveness
  • Establishing clear links across other strategies
  • Having a clear focus on sharing resources and working with the third sector
  • Sharing good practice examples and encouraging a more consistent approach across Scotland

Question 11: Thinking about the strategy overall, to what extent has it achieved its aim of providing a shared vision to help partners and communities to work together effectively to drive improvement in community justice?

Forty-one respondents responded to this closed question. Of those that responded:

  • 7% answered 'to a great extent'
  • 85% answered 'to some extent'
  • 7% answered 'not at all'

Forty-one respondents responded to the open 'Please explain your response further' section of the question, and the following themes emerged:

Theme identified Number of comments relating to this theme
Implementation and the role of partners 13
Impact of the strategy 11
Establishing a shared vision 10
Partnership working 6

Implementation and the role of partners

Some respondents noted the strategy was useful in creating a clear vision, but that it had not been successful in ensuring collaboration. Respondents mentioned examples of good practice, but also noted that partnership and collaboration was inconsistent across Scotland. Respondents also stated that there was a need to better clarify roles and responsibilities in future strategies.

'The strategy has been effective at providing a clear, shared vision for partners, however there is an opportunity for the strategy to go further by providing further clarity as to the role and potential contribution of individual statutory partners within local community justice partnership arrangements.'

A Community Justice Partnership

Impact of the strategy

Many respondents were generally positive about the impact of the strategy overall in achieving the above aim with one noting that 'it has cemented the aspirations for community justice and therefore has had a positive impact on collaborative working across partner agencies'. However, a number of responses were less positive with one noting that it had not helped reduce the prison population and others emphasising the lack of awareness of the strategy across communities.

Establishing a shared vision

Many respondents noted that the strategy had played a role in driving progress and setting a common vision for partners to work towards, while some noted that there was still significant progress to be made. One respondent commented that the strategy had helped to underpin good and effective practice and that the strategy's wide scope was inviting to a range of partners. Another respondent gave the example of the requirement to reference the strategy in the development of local plans as a way that the strategy had helped to establish a common vision, with another noting the 'synergy between the national justice vision and local plans'.

In relation to the scope of the strategy, some felt that the strategy should include more of a focus on the promotion of early intervention, while one respondent noted that the 'expansive, cross-cutting and over ambitious nature of the current strategy has made delivery at a local level particularly challenging'.

'Shared vision could be greater established by supporting all partners and communities to better understand their role within community justice and ensuring this is echoed in all relevant strategies and plans.'

A Community Justice Partnership

Partnership working

Some respondents described the strategy as being helpful in promoting partnership working, with one commenting that it provides 'a foundation for partners to work from'. Conversely, some respondents said that the role that the strategy had in promoting partnership working was more limited, with one noting that significant partnership working had taken place in their area prior to the publication of the strategy. Some responses referenced the work that had been taken forward locally (with the input of Community Justice Scotland) and stated that this would have happened without the existence of the strategy.

Moreover, some respondents noted that there were continuing issues with ensuring the buy-in of partners towards a shared vision. Other responses described the importance of relationships between partners that have developed over time and questioned the role of the strategy in assisting this – with one indicating that the strategy has become less used over time.

Question 12: Thinking about the strategy overall, would you say that it has influenced the work of your local area/organisation?

Forty-two respondents responded to this closed question. Of those that responded:

  • 17% answered 'to a great extent'
  • 74% answered 'to some extent'
  • 10% answered 'not at all'

Thirty-nine respondents responded to the open 'Please explain your response further' section of the question, and the following themes emerged:

Theme identified Number of comments relating to this theme
Implementation and impact 14
Community justice partnerships 9
Shared vision 6
Planning 6

Implementation and impact

A number of organisations stated that the strategy had influenced how they aligned their work, but many stated that this was only to a limited extent with other aspects (i.e. Community Justice Scotland) having a greater role. However, one respondent reported that the strategy had provided the impetus to change their structural arrangements – in that they had combined two partnership groups to create a single partnership group with a more streamlined focus.

Community justice partnerships

Many respondents highlighted the beneficial role of the strategy when they were first forming a local community justice partnership – with some commenting on the continuing impact that it has in providing a focus to encourage collaborative working and increased understanding. Some partners were critical of structural aspects associated with the strategy – such as the lack of national body to support it at the time of publication and the challenges brought by its expansive focus.

'The strategy has been helpful in bringing partners together within the community justice partnership and has enabled us to work together more collaboratively.'

A Local Authority

Shared vision

As per the previous question, some respondents discussed the strategy's role in providing a shared visionand underpinning principles – with one community justice partner referring to the strategy as providing an 'overall road map' and one partnership noting that it was useful for policy direction but not used to inform day to day activity. One respondent also noted it had increased the local focus on diversion from prosecution and the issues around the imprisonment of young people.

Planning

Many respondents commented on the role that the strategy had in enabling them to develop their local CJOIPs and associated documentation. Others commented that it had been of more limited influence, and that local planning documentation was of greater influence.

Question 13a: Which elements of the strategy do you find most useful?

Thirty-nine respondents responded to this open question, and the following themes emerged:

Theme identified Number of comments relating to this theme
Shared vision, priorities & principles 15
Focus on prevention, reintegration and addressing complex needs 10
Partnership working 9
Focus on understanding the evidence-base and taking action 6
Structure of the strategy 6

Shared vision, priorities & principles

Some respondents commented that the strategy was useful in communicating aims and principles, as well as a shared vision and priorities – with one noting that it defined a common language for community justice. Several respondents said that the underlying principles of the strategy were positive, helped to define a common sense of purpose and continued to resonate. One noted that these were helpful in 'addressing the use of short term prison sentences that promote negative outcomes for individuals compared to completing community disposals'.

'The vision, mission statements, priorities and principles continue to resonate. Collectively they set out a clear set of aims and objectives for community justice that provide an overarching framework to guide and inform local partnerships.'

Social Work Scotland

Focus on prevention, integration and addressing complex needs

Some respondents commented favourably on the strategy's focus on both prevention and integration – with one noting violence and prison reduction. Some responses discussed the complex and multiple needs of the individuals involved in the justice system, with one response also highlighting the references to the impact on families in the strategy.

'The strategy acknowledges the wider societal issues that impact on how people can be reintegrated, for example addressing access to employment, housing, and addiction services will have a direct impact on this principle and cannot be addressed by community justice only.'

Police Scotland

Partnership working

Some respondents noted that the strategy was useful in promoting partnership working, the need for a responsive service and collaboration in the achievement of outcomes – with one commenting on its usefulness in 'contextualising the parameters of community justice'. One response emphasised this by noting that its 'usefulness was in establishing local partnerships particularly in the diverse range of partners who have a role to play in community justice'.

'The strategy provided a useful guidance document for Community Justice Partners, the Partnership and Coordinator when we were getting to grips with the new model for Community Justice and was used during the developing our Community Justice Outcomes Improvement Plan.'

A Community Justice Partnership

Focus on understanding the evidence-base and taking action

A number of respondents commented on the focus on evidence-based actions and noted that this content was very helpful. One respondent noted that the contextual information helped to provide a justification for the inclusion of improvement priorities. One respondent noted, however, that the complexity and expansive nature of the strategy were difficult to implement.

Structure of the strategy

A small number of respondents commented positively on the structure of the strategy saying that it was easy to follow, contained helpful infographics and was accessible. One respondent also stated that it gave a clear summary of the legislative background.

Question 13b: Which elements of the strategy do you find least useful?

Thirty-six respondents responded to this open question, the following themes emerged:

Theme identified Number of comments relating to this theme
Length, language and accessibility 14
Gaps in the strategy 11
Roles and responsibilities of partners 10
Links with other policy areas and strategies 7
Definition of community justice and role of Community Justice Scotland 5
Lack of measurement data 3
Lack of guidance on prioritisation 3
Time limited nature and lack of implementation support 3
Absence of associated funding 3

Length, language and accessibility

A large number of respondents stated that the length and the complexity of the strategy was not useful – and some noted that while the contextual information could be useful, it may no longer be needed or might be more appropriate in an appendix.

The length was also mentioned as a barrier to the accessibility of the strategy – with one commenting that the strategy requires significant time to read and absorb. Some responses indicated that the strategy was difficult to engage with and that a summary may be useful in future.

Gaps in the strategy

A significant number of responses highlighted areas which they felt should have been included (or had more of a focus) within the strategy – these included:

  • Trauma-informed practice
  • Local strategic needs and strengths assessments
  • Prevention and early intervention
  • Throughcare
  • The impact on families affected by the justice system
  • The sharing of good practice examples and 'good news stories'
  • Detail on community justice partners
  • Detail on the accompanying measurement framework (OPIF)

Roles and responsibilities of partners

It was the view of many respondents that the roles and responsibilities of partners could have been more explicitly detailed in the strategy. One respondent noted that the 'lack of detail has impacted some partners ability to assume ownership of community justice within their organisation'. Another noted that:

'The National Strategy does not draw clear lines of delivery, governance, and accountability in community justice, and in turn delivery by local partnerships is always likely to be varied.'

Links with other policy areas and strategies

Some respondents commented on the need for a revised strategy to ensure links to other strategies and related policy areas.

'whilst the current strategy highlights some causal links to the wider landscape/community planning, it has not been explicit enough in linking to other national strategies where there is the potential to have shared outcomes.'

A Community Justice Partnership

Definition of community justice and role of Community Justice Scotland

Some respondents commented that the strategy needed to differentiate more clearly between community justice and justice services to avoid confusion. Some respondents also stated there was not a clear definition of community justice within the strategy, and one respondent felt that the strategy needed to provide greater clarity on the role of Community Justice Scotland.

'The strategy requires to further contextualise the role of the leadership organisation Community Justice Scotland (CJS) and more explicitly define the relationship and support available to local partnerships.'

A Community Justice Partnership

Lack of measurement data

Some respondents noted the lack of an effective measurement framework to support the strategy or suggested its subsequent inclusion.

Lack of guidance on prioritisation

Some respondents noted the lack of information about which aspects of the strategy should be prioritised – with one respondee noting the competing priorities of community justice partners. Others mentioned the wide scope of the strategy and the issues this posed for delivery.

Time limited nature and lack of implementation support

Some respondents noted that the strategy contained out of date material and that the implementation plan, which is referred to in Chapter 10, had not materialised.

Absence of associated funding

Some respondents commented that the strategy did not include sufficient information around funding – specifically how the improvement actions within the strategy would be resourced, with one respondent commenting that the priorities required national funding.

Contact

Email: cjstrategy@gov.scot

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