SECTION 1: THE CONSULTATION
1.1 This report presents the findings of a written consultation carried out by the Scottish Government on "Redesigning the Community Justice System". The consultation ran from 21st December 2012 to 30th April 2013.
1.2 This report is in six sections. This section outlines the nature of the consultation, the responses received and the means of presentation of the findings. Section 2 covers the findings on the questions relating to all options (Questions 1-7 and Question 10). Section 3 covers the findings on the questions relating specifically to Option A (Questions 11-18). Section 4 covers the findings on the questions relating specifically to Option B (Questions 19-25). Section 5 covers the questions relating specifically to Option C (Questions 26-31); and Section 6 covers the findings relating to the perceived equality impact (Question 8), business and third sector impact (Question 9) and any other issues raised in the consultation (Question 32).
Background to the consultation
1.3 Tackling reoffending is a key strand of the Scottish Government's Strategy for Justice1, and the Reducing Reoffending in Scotland Programme Phase II is taking forward work to address this with a range of partners. Positive progress has been made in recent years, and headline indicators of crime have fallen over the last 5 years, including recorded crime and reconviction rates.
1.4 Despite progress, however, it is recognised that offending remains a complex problem. Recent reports2, have pointed to shortcomings with the organisation and delivery of community justice services across Scotland. The 2012 report by Audit Scotland identified the involvement of a range of bodies in reducing reoffending, and a "complex landscape" of provision. The report also suggested that Community Justice Authorities (CJAs) have made little progress in reducing reoffending, with problems relating to their set up and inflexible funding. The Commission on Women Offenders also identified a need for the "radical transformation" of community justice, citing problems with the structure and funding of criminal justice social work and working practices.
1.5 In the light of these issues, the Government reached the view that the current structure for community justice cannot continue. In its response to the report of the Commission on Women Offenders, the Cabinet Secretary for Justice made a commitment to bringing forward new proposals for redesigning the current community justice system. The Government has a vision of a successful community justice system:
"...which delivers positive outcomes for victims, for offenders and their families and for communities. One where services are person-centred, based on evidence of what works and makes best use of public resources. One where there is strong leadership, collaborative working and robust accountability3".
1.6 It was recognised that a range of stakeholders could inform the identification of the best means of achieving this. As such, a consultation document was issued at the end of 2012, to explore the best means of redesigning the community justice system. This report presents the findings of the written consultation. Discussions were also held at a number of stakeholder events, and a separate report presents the findings of these4.
The consultation process
1.7 The consultation document identified 3 options, described further in Section 2:
- Option A: An "enhanced CJA model".
- Option B: A "local authority model".
- Option C: A "single service model".
1.8 The consultation explored 32 questions (with some multi-part questions, making a total of 46). Some explored respondents' views of all three options (Questions 1-10), while the remainder explored their views of specific options and particular aspects of these. Written responses to the consultation were invited, along with the completion of a Respondent Information Form (RIF). A full list of the questions is provided at Annex 1.
Submissions and respondents
1.9 Most of the respondents addressed some or all of the specific questions, or provided information directly relating to specific questions. Several, however, provided a more general response (e.g.in the form of a letter or paper), and some provided considerable additional material along with their response to particular questions (e.g. in a covering letter, appendix or paper). A very large amount of detailed material was provided in the responses. Most were submitted electronically.
Analysis of the data and presentation of the information
1.10 The analysis of the data involved a number of stages, as follows:
- An Access database was designed to include the data relating to each of the questions and information was input verbatim.
- Responses to the closed questions were analysed and the quantitative findings prepared.
- A series of Word documents was generated, containing all of the qualitative material in the responses to each of the open questions.
- Key themes and sub-themes were identified for each question and supplementary question, and the detailed comments were organised into a series of issue-based "books".
- The findings were summarised and the report prepared.
1.11 The presentation of the information involves quantitative and qualitative material. In terms of quantitative information, the proportions of respondents who addressed each question and their responses to closed questions have been provided. Given the nature of most of the questions, the main focus of the analysis was qualitative. The presentation of the material reflects this analysis, focusing on highlighting the overall themes and the range and depth of views expressed in relation to each. The report uses qualitative terms such as "a very small number"; "a small number"; "several"; "many"; "a large number"; etc. to describe the level of focus on particular themes.
1.12 In addition, however, the overall balance of views has been identified for respondents' preferred option overall, as many respondents identified this clearly within their response. This was ascertained by identifying the following:
- Those expressing clear and explicit agreement or disagreement with a possible answer or option.
- Those whose views of a question / proposal could be inferred from their comments.
- Those for whom it was not possible to infer their overall views.
1.13 Only those who expressed a sufficiently unequivocal view of their preference to allow their intention to be ascertained have been included in this (although, in some cases, this required some measure of subjective judgement).
1.14 Similarly, at those "open" questions which sought views among potential options, the general balance of views has been identified, wherever possible, using similar means. Again, it is recognised that this is not scientifically exact, and provides only a general indication of the pattern. It would be inappropriate to attempt to quantify these responses further for a range of reasons, including that: respondents provided their information in a number of different ways; some focused on benefits and drawbacks of particular suggestions without identifying an overall preference; many points were made at different questions, or overlapped more than one theme; some responses were submitted on behalf of organisations and/or represented the views of a number of respondents; and there was a need for judgement throughout the analysis about where to include particular material in the report. It should also be noted that, at many questions, both positive views and concerns were identified by respondents with differing overall views of the issue explored.
1.15 The report identifies variations by type of respondent in relation to their overall views of the preferred options. It would clearly be inappropriate, however, to list the types of respondents identifying each theme in each case. It should be noted that where the term "respondent" is used, this refers to one response, even where this may represent the views of more than one contributor.
1.16 In presenting the qualitative data, the wording used in the report sometimes follows the wording used in a response closely, to reflect respondents' intended messages and preserve the sense of the point, even though it is not presented as a quote. Where respondents requested that their material should remain confidential, however, the source of their views has not been identified at any point. This report clearly cannot present all of the individual points made by every respondent, nor can it provide a compendium of the material. In a report of this length and nature, it would be impossible to reflect the level of detail and the complexity of all of the arguments presented. The full text of the responses can, however, be viewed on the Scottish Government website5.
Summary of issues: The consultation
1.17 In summary:
- A consultation on "Redesigning the Community Justice System" was carried out between December 2012 and 30th April 2013.
- 112 written responses were received. The most common category of respondent was local authorities (22%). Also common were responses from individuals (20%). A range of other types of respondent also provided views.
- The analysis of the data involved: design of an Access database; input of the responses; analysis of the closed questions; identification of key themes and sub-themes; and preparation of a report.
- The report presents the quantitative and qualitative material, including the themes, and the range and depth of views expressed.
- The full responses are available for inspection on the Scottish Government website.
Email: Carole Edwards