National Strategy for Community Justice revision: consultation

This consultation seeks views on key aspects of the revised National Strategy for Community Justice.

5. Strategy context

This section sets out some contextual information for the strategy, some of which will likely be included in the introductory text of the revised strategy.

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 arrangements are a key aspect of community justice, and require

effective partnership-working to allow people to be managed in the community when they require additional focus from a number of partners.

A legal definition of community justice is provided in section 1 of 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 have the potential to increase public awareness and confidence in it as a sentencing option.

National Strategy for Community Justice

The revised strategy will set the national direction for community justice by building on the progress made to date.

It will be more focussed than its predecessor and will be accompanied by a delivery plan to ensure implementation and drive towards actions at a national, as well as local level. Community justice partners have a statutory duty to have regard to the strategy and work collaboratively to improve community justice outcomes across Scotland.

The revised strategy will recognise that there will always be a place for prison and that public protection is paramount – however, it will equally recognise the clear evidence that community-based interventions and sentences can be more effective in reducing reoffending and assisting with rehabilitation, leading to fewer victims and safer communities.

Under the Act the revised strategy must be reviewed and consequently potentially revised no later than 5 years after it is published. Due to the potential impacts of ongoing reforms, it may be more likely that the revised strategy is reviewed in 3-4 years' time, this is still however under consideration.

Community justice partners

We recognise the broad range of partners that contribute to the achievement of community justice outcomes. This includes the statutory partners as defined in the Act, communities and the third sector who also play a vital role. Partners should work together at a local and national level to fulfil the aims of the revised strategy and therefore drive improvement.

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

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 consultation.

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.

Policy links

The Scottish Government's high level ambition for community justice, building on what is set out in the 2021-22 Programme for Government, is to shift the balance towards greater use of community interventions where appropriate, address needs early and consistently throughout the justice system, support integration post custody and ultimately reduce reoffending and victimisation. Whilst public protection remains our first priority, our ambition for community justice supports the long term ambition of using prison only for those who pose a risk of serious harm.

There have been a number of significant developments since the current strategy was published in 2016, not least the impact of the coronavirus pandemic over the last 2 years. As we emerge from the pandemic, it is right that we should look at how to renew our public services and build on the lessons we have learnt.

The delivery of community justice services requires appropriate resourcing, but can also support prevention and deliver improved outcomes for individuals and communities. Decisions around funding and investment will be considered as part of the on-going work to deliver the strategy.

Consideration must also be given to how the strategy and model of community justice can support and work effectively with the emerging National Care Service, as decisions are taken regarding the scope and future design of the Service.

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

The Vision for Justice in Scotland contains evidence and outcomes that underpin our approach to community justice. Aspects of community justice span across the Vision for Justice in Scotland, including the transformation priorities:

  • Our services, third sector partners and legal profession must be person-centred and trauma-informed
  • We must also strive to work across our public services to improve outcomes for individuals, focussing on prevention and early intervention

The National Strategy for Community Justice also continues the drive towards 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 tangible and time-limited actions 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. 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 support the commitment to ensuring Restorative Justice services are available across Scotland by 2023.

Youth Justice

The number of young people going through the criminal justice system has reduced dramatically in recent years - community interventions have a key role to play. 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 criminal justice system and promote the use of the Whole System Approach and community-based interventions.

Violence prevention

The Strategy will also compliment the National Violence Prevention Framework which will be published in 2022 and will consider all the available evidence and identify policy priorities for all partners to work towards to prevent violence and make Scotland's communities safer.

Women in justice

The Strategy will reflect the strategic examination that the Minister for Community Safety will be undertaking, supported by a Women's Leadership Panel, to address gender inequality and improve women's experiences within the justice system. The Panel will examine the experiences of women as both victims and offenders in a range of settings including policing, community justice, criminal and civil courts, tribunals and prisons. This work will promote the development of strategic outcomes which can guide and enhance the scope and uptake for gender competent policy making and the design of justice policies which can go further for women.

Delivery plan and expectations

A delivery plan for the strategy will be published detailing specific actions for the Scottish Government and community justice partners to take forward over the course of the strategy. We intend to work closely with partners to develop this delivery plan.

Alongside the strategy Scottish Ministers are required to publish a performance framework. The Outcomes, Performance and Improvement Framework (the OPIF) determines the outcomes and indicators used to measure performance in the area of each local authority, and is a tool designed to support improvement across the community justice landscape. Proposals for a revised OPIF are currently being prepared by Community Justice Scotland and, subject to consideration in due course by Scottish Ministers, a new version is expected to be published during 2022/23. The OPIF has strong links to the strategy and will help to drive improvement towards the aims in the strategy.

The Guidance for Local Partners will also be updated to support community justice partners to understand their roles and responsibilities.

The Act requires community justice partners for the area of a local authority to publish a Community Justice Outcomes Improvement Plan (CJOIP) and participation statement, setting out their priorities and planned actions, related to the national outcomes (as set out in the OPIF), and any other locally-determined outcomes, and having regard to the strategy. Community justice partners for each local area are also required to publish an annual report on progress towards achieving the outcomes in their CJOIP.



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