5. Future thinking
This section asked respondents for views on key future priorities.
Question 14: In your view what are the three main community justice priorities over the next 3-5 years?
Forty-seven respondents responded to this open question. Some suggested more than three priorities and the length and detail of the answers varied significantly. The following themes emerged:
|Theme identified||Number of comments relating to this theme|
|Delivery of community justice||28|
|Promote early intervention, prevention and support for young people||22|
|Improved community understanding and participation||20|
|Reduce prison population, reduce the use of short sentences and promote the use of community alternatives||19|
|Promote evidence-based practice||18|
|Support for victims, witnesses and families of individuals affected by imprisonment & restorative justice||17|
|Addressing the underlying causes of offending & equal access to services||12|
|Funding & resourcing||10|
|Public safety, violence reduction & reducing reoffending||10|
|Recovery from the pandemic||6|
|Input of individuals with lived experience||6|
|Alignment with the OPIF||4|
Delivery of community justice
A significant number of responses suggested that the strategy should focus on the delivery of community justice across Scotland. For example, some respondents indicated that the strategy should advocate learning from health and social care and adopt a public health approach.
Others stated that the strategy should have a focus on partnership working, and that it should advocate a more collaborative approach with multi-agency working and collective investment of resources. Some respondees suggested a priority on effective governance and making effective links between criminal justice and community justice services, and others stated that it should emphasise governance arrangements, accountability and the responsibilities of partners.
Several responses also noted that the strategy should have a role in promoting effective implementation, systems that meet the needs of users and the use of management information.
Promote early intervention, prevention and support for young people
A number of responses stated that the strategy should include a priority on early intervention. Some responses indicated that the strategy should include a focus on prevention via engaging at the earliest possible opportunity with individuals. Some also emphasised that the strategy should include a focus on diversion and, specifically, maximising alternatives to prosecution.
Some noted that the strategy should promote support being provided to young people and emphasised the importance of tackling the root causes of offending. Specific reference was made to reflecting the Promise and improving transitions between children and adult services and ensuring that the rights of children and young people are reflected.
'Ensuring that individuals receive the help and support they require at the earliest opportunity and do not have to wait lengthy periods of time to access support.'
A Community Justice Partnership
Improved community understanding and participation
Some responses indicated that the strategy should retain the current priority of improving community understanding and participation. A number indicated that engagement between partnerships and the judiciary should be prioritised. Whilst others noted that the strategy should be informed by public engagement and include a focus on what community justice means in practice. Linked to this, a number suggested that the reduction of stigma should also be prioritised.
'Ensure that public understanding of community justice includes the clear evidence that trauma, poverty and mental ill health or poor wellbeing – have a direct correlation with those involved in offending.'
A Community Justice Partnership
Reduce prison population, reduce the use of short sentences and promote the use of community alternatives
A significant number of responses stated that the strategy should focus on actions to reduce the prison population (including the use of remand) with some responses stating that the strategy should emphasise that prison should only be used where it is necessary to address offending. Many suggested actions related to the reduction of short term sentences and, correspondingly, encouraging a greater use of community-based disposals and diversion from prosecution.
Promote evidence-based practice
A number of responses emphasised that the strategy should be informed by the available evidence base. Some included examples of interventions that they felt were effective and emphasised the importance of third sector input. One response suggested that the strategy should be informed by a national strategic needs assessment.
Support for victims, witnesses and families of individuals affected by imprisonment & restorative justice
A number of responses indicated that the strategy should prioritise support for victims and witnesses, ensuring that they receive appropriate support and feedback and to improve their overall experience of the justice system. Some responses also indicated the importance of the recognition of the needs of families.
'We think it is imperative that a national Community Justice strategy gives strong consideration to the formal and informal community resources that need to be put in place or maintained sufficiently to support the individuals that we work with, their families, and the victims of the crimes that have been committed.'
A Health and Social Care Partnership
Addressing the underlying causes of offending & equal access to services
'Prevention and reduction of offending, including a social justice approach that tackles the root causes of offending. This includes poverty, substance misuse, addiction, trauma and poor mental health.'
Scottish Association of Social Work
Some responses indicated that the strategy should seek to address the underlying causes of offending – with some providing examples of contributing factors. Some suggested that the strategy should prioritise integration – including a focus on employability and housing services.
A number of responses also stated that the strategy should maintain its present focus on encouraging equal access to services, and include a focus on addressing human rights and inequalities.
Some responses suggested that there should be a focus in the strategy on ensuring that services across the community justice sector were trauma-informed, with some suggesting that the strategy should include an emphasis on trauma-informed practice.
'Trauma, with a focus on developing trauma-informed and responsive practice across the whole of the community justice system and all of the processes within it.'
A Community Justice Partnership
Funding & resourcing
Some responses advocated for the strategy to reflect the importance of funding and resourcing and how decisions around these contribute to the ability to undertake improvement activity. A number of responses stated that the strategy should emphasise the importance of the long-term resourcing of services and delivery of equitable services. Some responses suggested that the strategy should focus on the realignment of funding from spend on custodial settings to community-based interventions.
Public safety, violence reduction & reducing reoffending
A number of responses stated that the strategy should contribute to reduce reoffending, with some suggesting a priority on public safety and reducing the risk of harm – with two responses suggesting a focus on the reduction of violent crime. Some suggested that the strategy should seek to refocus the approach to community justice to one which was more aligned to harm reduction and another suggested that taking action to address drug deaths should be a priority. One response also included an emphasis on the role of electronic monitoring in 'imposing effective control over some offenders'.
Recovery from the pandemic
Some responses indicated that the strategy should prioritise the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, with one referencing the impact of the pandemic on unpaid work.
Input of individuals with lived experience
Some responses emphasised the importance of including the experience of those with lived experience of the justice system, both within the strategy development itself and in ongoing implementation of local improvement actions.
Alignment with the OPIF
Some noted that the strategy must align to the OPIF. A mention was also made of the importance of having a revised OPIF that partners can use to 'track progress and identify areas for improvement'.
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