Publication - Research and analysis

Redesigning the Community Justice System: Analysis of Consultation Responses

Published: 4 Oct 2013
Part of:

A written consultation was carried out by the Scottish Government on “Redesigning the Community Justice System” between 20 December 2012 and 30 April 2013. This document reports on the analysis of the responses to the consultation.

99 page PDF

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99 page PDF

835.5 kB

Redesigning the Community Justice System: Analysis of Consultation Responses

99 page PDF

835.5 kB


3.1 This section presents the findings on the questions relating to Option A, the enhanced CJA model (Questions 11-18).

Question 11 - Overall views Option A - enhanced CJA model

3.2 Question 11 asked:

What are your overall views on retaining CJAs but changing their membership and functions?

3.3 Just under three quarters of respondents addressed this question. Additionally, several respondents made comments on their overall views of Option A at Question 32, or in other material, and these views have been included here. A very small number of respondents expressed an overall preference for this option, but many detailed comments were made, most frequently potential concerns or issues, although some also highlighted benefits of the option.

Option A overall - Potential benefits

3.4 Although the most frequent comments related to concerns with Option A, many respondents also identified both positive aspects and potential benefits. A few respondents expressed an overall preference for this (suggesting, for example, that it could address the outcomes required and strengthen leadership and direction, while meeting local need). One suggested that it would be a cost-effective way of doing so.

3.5 Comments on the proposed changes to CJAs included that:

  • The changes overall would strengthen CJAs and improve on the existing model.
  • A strategic commissioning function could help deliver specialist services and enable a strategic approach to decision making and to working with the third sector.
  • A change in Board membership along with RSLs becoming partners could promote greater ownership and engagement, enable recognition of their role, and allow additional insights.
  • Operational responsibility could enable economies of scale.
  • An independent chair could reduce conflict of interest.

3.6 A number of comments were also made on the positive role of CJAs, perceived successes to date and the nature of their approach. Several respondents, for example, cited examples of CJA successes (e.g. promoting collaboration; improving practice; providing a framework for CJSW to work in partnership; and reducing reconviction), or suggested the opportunity to build upon or continue progress made through the CJA role. Some respondents argued that CJAs can ensure flexible responses to local needs and issues, with some adding that this requires members who are local elected members. It was also stated that the model has the option to retain CJSW provision within social work, retain local provision and provide accountability (if, in the view of one respondent, the functions did not including operational responsibility). Further comments included that the CJAs could provide an important regional dimension to the structure, providing a "voice" for smaller / rural local authorities and a "professional voice", as well as drawing others into regional discussion. A few respondents suggested that the level of disruption with this model would be limited.

Option A overall - potential concerns or issues

3.7 Some respondents stated generally that they would not support this option, or indicated that it was not considered viable, not necessary, or they favoured another approach. Several suggested that they did not believe Option A would deliver the changes required, and / or the desired outcomes. A few argued that this option lacked the detail or level of development of the other options.

3.8 A large number of respondents identified concerns with CJAs. These included views that they: were not required; lacked "teeth"; had not been effective in some issues or that there was variation between areas; and that they had fragmented service provision, as well as failing to address or contributing to disconnections. Some respondents suggested that CJAs had been restricted by their role and structure, or argued that problems or flaws with the model made it inappropriate to address issues in the community justice system. Comments were also made on a perceived lack of visibility or awareness of the CJAs.

3.9 A further common concern was that CJAs add a layer of bureaucracy, increase complexity, or contribute to a "cluttered landscape". A few respondents also suggested that the model could lead to duplication of CPP or other partnership functions and cause further disconnection. Issues were also raised about a perceived lack of links to community planning processes and SOAs. Some identified weaknesses in performance management, along with concerns about accountability.

3.10 Some suggested that the option as presented would not resolve conflict of roles. Several respondents raised resource issues, including concerns about: cost and time implications; the potential waste of resources and lack of value for money. It was suggested that resources could be put to better use developing services. A few comments were made on the limited ability of CJAs to direct resources to needs.

3.11 Another areas of concern was the potential negative impact of Option A on practice and on outcomes. In terms of practice, this included: damage to local relationships and existing links; reduced access to local services; weakening of social work values; and distancing of criminal justice from other social work interventions. In terms of outcomes, the potential negative impact included: increased crime and reoffending; and reduced safety.

3.12 Some concerns were also raised with particular aspects of the proposed changes. These included a general lack of capacity and resources in CJAs, and specific concerns about a lack of the experience, skills or knowledge to assume operational responsibility for CJSW services. It was also suggested that providing operational responsibility could make accountability less clear and fragment delivery arrangements further. One respondent stated that this proposal was "unrealistic" and another that it was untested and without evidence. Some issues were also raised with the suggested role in commissioning, for example, implications for staff and services agreements, a potential threat to local authority services, and a failure to address the issue of VAT).

3.13 A few respondents suggested that the appointment of an independent Chair and the inclusion of non-executive members could compromise or weaken local accountability. It was also suggested that issues with boundaries could lead to a lack of "fit" with other local plans. As noted above, a respondent noted that a statutory duty does not equate to statutory accountability. One respondent suggested that the proposed development to the role of the TDO did not fit with local experience.

3.14 Among a small number of additional concerns were that: the option did not reconsider the CJA geography in the light of the changing wider landscape; the role of the Chief Social Work Officer had not been properly addressed; and the role of the RMA was not mentioned. It was also suggested that the option did not include a National Leadership Board, nor address national leadership and joint working.

Option A overall - requirements, additional suggestions and other comments

3.15 Although generally raised by very small numbers in each case, suggestions were made related to commissioning, for example: the need for buy-in to the approach; the need for further clarity of national and local links; the need to ensure that agencies are challenged to show how they support local priorities; and the need for a firm commitment to commissioning non-core criminal justice services.

3.16 Suggestions were also made about funding (e.g. the need for control of how funding is used; the need to reconcile ring-fenced funding with CJA responsibility for commissioning and procurement). It was also argued that work would be required with this option to educate people about the proposed role and functions of enhanced CJAs. One suggested that CJAs could appoint a "national spokesperson".

3.17 It was also suggested that third sector organisations must be fully included and represented appropriately on the Board as well as other groups. The need to enhance leadership and address potential conflicts of interest was identified. It was argued that there is a need for further clarity of issues such as: the role of the Chair; the function of the Board; what a statutory duty would involve; and a range of issues relating to the option of transferring operational CJSW responsibilities to CJAs. The need to ensure training and development was also noted.

3.18 Some respondents pointed to elements of the work of CJA which should be continued, including the potential continuation of the role of the TDOs and the strategic approach developed in relation to some issues. A few respondents, however, argued that another option, or that another means of carrying out the existing CJA functions would be preferable.

Question 12 - Appointing a Chair and expanding membership

3.19 Question 12 asked:

Will appointing a chair and expanding the membership of the CJA Board to include the Health Board help remove any potential conflict of interest and promote collective responsibility for reducing reoffending?

3.20 Around two thirds of respondents addressed this question. A small proportion of respondents answered "yes" or "no" directly, and overall views could be ascertained for around half of those who answered. Where views were given, these were fairly evenly split, although the number who answered or implied "no" was slightly higher than those who answered or implied "yes". Additionally, a few of those who agreed that the changes would make some improvement qualified this (e.g. by stating that it might not be sufficient, or that it may only impact at a high level).

3.21 Most comments focused on benefits in terms of removing potential conflict of interest and promoting collective responsibility for reducing reoffending, or on concerns about the impact on these factors. As was found with the overall pattern of views, slightly more respondents identified concerns than identified positive aspects.

Potential benefits - appointing a Chair and expanding membership

3.22 A large number of respondents made positive comments about this suggestion, and, within this, most focused on expanding membership to include Health Boards. Some respondents specifically welcomed this, and benefits were seen to include:

  • Increasing "buy-in" by the Health Board (e.g. to plans).
  • Enabling services to identify themselves as providing community justice services.
  • Promoting shared planning and accountability.
  • Promoting collaborative and integrated working.
  • Increasing understanding of social work values.
  • Providing a wider perspective.

3.23 A few respondents highlighted the key role of the NHS in prison health care, and the impact of health issues on offenders.

3.24 Few respondents commented positively on the appointment of a Chair, but those who did included some potential benefits, including: creating a more formal, business approach; and improving accountability via direct links to Government.

Potential concerns or issues - appointing a Chair and expanding membership

3.25 Some respondents stated simply that they did not support the proposals, or expressed the view that the changes would not necessarily have the desired impact. Some issues raised related generally to the proposals, including that this would: increase bureaucracy, complexity and costs; clutter the landscape further; and reduce effectiveness. A few respondents stated that existing or planned arrangements (e.g. the integration of health and social care) would suffice, or that cultural, rather than structural change would lead to improved outcomes.

3.26 Among concerns raised in relation to addressing conflict of interest and the appointment of a Chair were that the proposals would: increase costs; reduce democratic accountability; decrease responsiveness to local issues; and fail to remove conflict of interest. It was also argued that there was a lack of clarity about the independence of the Chair; and that the roles, responsibilities and relationships between the Chair, Convener and Chief Officer were unclear and could be potential areas of tension. A further issue raised was that the overall context and the lack of strategic approach to funding impacted on conflict of interest.

3.27 In relation to expanding membership, it was suggested that there could be challenges for CJAs covering more than one Health Board (and the lack of coterminous boundaries). It was suggested that the proposals would not have an impact on collective responsibility across other areas of service provision, nor on local strategic service planning. Similarly, it was noted that there could be culture differences. It was also suggested that simply requiring an agency to be a member does not necessarily improve commitment, and one respondent argued that Health Boards have little control over the practice of health professionals. A few respondents, however, suggested that Health Boards are already involved with some CJAs, and are members of CPPs, and examples were provided of health and CJSW staff working together at a local level.

Requirements or suggestions and other comments

3.28 Several respondents made suggestions relating to these issues, including: placing a duty to cooperate on Health Boards (similar to local authorities and the SPS); developing engagement; ensuring representation from the third sector; and giving CJAs direct accountability for all agencies they work with.

3.29 It was indicated that there is a need for more detail about the role of the Chair, and several respondents suggested that it would be essential that the Chair should be a local elected member. It was also suggested that CPPs should be accountable for integrating reducing reoffending to their SOAs, and that Council Leaders / Chief Executives should be members of CJA Boards and accountable for this. One respondent stated that the promotion of collective responsibility via legislative change could be implemented within any of the models.

Question 13 - The use of public appointments

3.30 Question 13 asked:

What do you think of the alternative proposal for all Board members to be recruited through the public appointments system based on skills, knowledge and experience?

3.31 Around two thirds of respondents addressed this question. Almost twice as many respondents raised concerns as commented on positive aspects.

Potential benefits - the use of the public appointments system

3.32 Some respondents stated generally that they agreed with the proposal, that it seemed sensible or appropriate, or that there would be benefits in such an approach. The most common comments focused on the impact of the approach on the CJAs, in terms, for example, of: providing knowledge, skills and experience; strengthening its role; and improving its running. Other comments included that it would: provide an open and fair recruitment process; help address conflict of interest; increase diversity and widen the pool of expertise and experience; promote consistency; and work towards integrative working.

Potential concerns or issues - the use of the public appointments system

3.33 A very large number of respondents identified concerns with this proposal, the most common of which related to the potential impact on local accountability (e.g. that it would: remove responsibility from elected members; reduce local democratic accountability and ownership; and break links between local service delivery and accountability).

3.34 A further common area of concern was the nature of the appointment, with issues raised relating to: the types of skills sought and the potential dual accountability of managers delivering community justice services to the CJA and their employer; and potential problems in recruiting those with relevant local knowledge, skills, experience and understanding of local needs. A few respondents stated that skills, knowledge and experience should be supplied by officers.

3.35 It was also suggested that the proposal risks excluding input from service users and from those working in related fields. A further concern was that the issues or areas considered might reflect Board members' experiences, with some issues or areas neglected. It was also argued that it may create other difficulties in effective working between the CJAs and local authorities, and would create a new body separate from community planning. Other negative views expressed about the proposal included: that the Board should be comprised of elected members; that there would be little point, or added value in using public appointments; that this would not address structural flaws; and that it would increase costs.

Requirements or suggestions and other comments

3.36 A few respondents made comments on the nature of skills needed (e.g. a mix of skills; and those relating to the delivery of criminal justice services), or suggested that skills are needed in front line work and management, supported by professional and political leadership. Other requirements identified included: service user involvement, with the suggestion that local authorities' experience in other areas could be used; effective links to local elected members; engagement with expert partner organisations and their inclusion in planning and development; and accountability. A very small number of respondents suggested other issues that could impact on improvements, or alternative approaches, such as: better training for Board members reinforcing their roles and responsibilities; better links with local authorities and partners and local partnership working; and the development of local services.

Question 14 - Levers and powers under Option A

3.37 Question 14 asked:

Do the proposals under Option A give CJAs sufficient levers and powers to reduce reoffending efficiently and effectively?

3.38 Around two thirds of respondents addressed this question, but the majority of these did not express a clear view of whether or not they believed the proposals gave CJAs sufficient levers and powers to reduce reoffending efficiently and effectively. Where a clear view could be identified most respondents suggested that they did not believe this to be the case. Additionally, a much larger proportion of detailed comments identified potential concerns than identified positive aspects.

Potential benefits - levers and powers

3.39 A small number of respondents made generally positive comments, or suggested that the changes would strengthen or enhance CJAs, or give them more scope to reduce reoffending. A few respondents suggested the potential for CJA commissioning powers to enable them to reduce reoffending through taking a strategic approach to this. A small number argued that commissioning powers, an effective performance framework, and, for a few respondents, operational powers, were the major levers required to make CJAs more effective.

Potential concerns or issues - levers and powers

3.40 Several respondents expressed general negative views of the proposed changes (or Option A overall), or argued that the changes would have limited or insufficient impact. Some stated their support for another option, or expressed a preference for another means of addressing the issues (e.g. through CPPs, local partnership working, the integration of health and social care or their own alternative option described previously). One respondent argued that the outcome sought could only be achieved if the CJA had operational and budgetary control over all agencies involved in reducing reoffending. Another suggested that the CJAs would still have to work through individual authorities or CPP arrangements to determine local needs, thus duplicating the CPP function.

3.41 Further concerns were expressed relating to perceptions of the overall effectiveness of CJAs. Difficulties in influencing operational delivery were identified, with some suggesting that the new powers would not change this as well as a lack of integration with wider community planning. It was also suggested that it is difficult to reduce reoffending from a "super-regional" perspective. One respondent noted a concern that CJAs were more focussed on statutory targets than an outcome-based model. Some respondents also noted that other factors also impact on reducing reoffending. One stated that, while the proposals may strengthen links with the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, they do not address other relevant areas of Cabinet responsibility.

3.42 Additional issues were identified relating to the potential limited impact of the changes on reducing reoffending, some of which have been highlighted previously. Other concerns included:

  • A negative impact on accountability.
  • A lack (or weakening) of local ownership, knowledge, links, relationships and community empowerment.
  • The loss of easy information sharing.
  • A lack of recognition of different local issues.
  • Fragmented services.
  • Reduced access to local services, or the creation of barriers to access.
  • Potentially unequal distribution of funds and hence provision.
  • The risk of resource deficits (with the suggestion that justice services are enhanced beyond the S27 budget by partners).

3.43 Additional comments on commissioning included views that: local authorities already have the ability to commission across boundaries; an increasing purchaser / provider distinction, and "top down" services could result from the changes proposed; and smaller authorities may be disadvantaged.

Requirements or suggestions and other comments

3.44 Among a small number of additional suggestions were the need to: maintain a local focus, build on previous successes; review funding models; and make investment in collaborative working.

Question 15 - Operational responsibility to CJAs for CJSW services

3.45 Question 15 asked:

Do you think CJAs should be given operational responsibility for the delivery of criminal justice social work services? Do CJAs currently have the skills, expertise and knowledge to take on these functions?

3.46 Just over two thirds of respondents addressed this question, and the majority expressed a clear view, either by stating or implying "yes" or "no". Almost all of those whose views could be ascertained did not believe that CJAs should be given operational responsibility for the delivery of CJSW services. This pattern was reflected in the detailed comments, where most raised concerns or issues. Almost no respondents identified positive aspects or benefits of this proposal.

Potential benefits - operational responsibility to CJAs

3.47 As noted, almost no positive aspects or benefits of this proposal were identified. The only comments made related to a suggestion that CJAs could recruit staff with appropriate experience, and that the transfer of existing staff could allow the retention of skills. One respondent argued that there may be less out-sourcing of services where statutory provision could be made.

Potential concerns or issues - operational responsibility to CJAs

3.48 Several respondents expressed their general opposition to this proposal, or stated explicitly that criminal justice social workers must continue to be employed by local authorities.

3.49 The most frequent comments related to a perceived lack of skills, expertise and knowledge among CJAs to take on these functions. Additionally, almost all of those who directly addressed the second part of the question, which asked whether CJAs currently had the required skills, expertise and knowledge expressed the view that they did not. Some respondents stressed issues such as:

  • The complexity and diverse nature of the function.
  • The range of inter-connected needs of offenders.
  • The need for professional expertise.
  • The lack of capacity in CJAs and current variation in skills and expertise within them.
  • Differences from CJAs' current role.
  • The existence of skills, expertise and knowledge among current CJSW service managers and staff.

3.50 A issue raised frequently was the potential impact upon services. It was suggested, for example, that the CJSW service would be: less responsive to local issues; disconnected from other parts of social work and other relevant local services and structures; and less accessible. It was also argued that the proposal would be disruptive, create barriers, risk loss of continuity of service, and that outcomes for offenders would be compromised. Concerns were also expressed about the impact on high risk offender management and on young people.

3.51 Several respondents raised concerns about the cost of the reorganisation or commented on the use of resources, for example, in diverting these from front line services. Other concerns expressed included that the proposal would: reduce access to wider training for staff; lead to confusion about the role of the Chief Social Work Officer; divide the social work profession; and undermine integration. One respondent stated that if staff did not transfer to the new service, this would also have significant implications. A few respondents expressed a view (noted earlier) that this proposal would have the effect of creating a national service, without any benefits.

Requirements or suggestions and other comments

3.52 Several respondents identified issues which would need to be addressed if this option was chosen, or made suggestions about preferred alternatives. Among there were the need for: an infrastructure to deal with human resource issues, administration, finance etc.; appropriately qualified and experienced staff; and workforce development (including specialist training).

3.53 Among other preferred alternatives were: retention of CJSW within local authorities; development to the role of existing partnerships; and the development of robust strategic and operational links among existing partners, including CPPs. Some also referred to their own suggested models. One respondent suggested reviewing reporting structures between local authorities and CJAs, and another that the proposal should be reviewed in the light of the integration of health and social care. One respondent noted that it was unclear why CJSW was the only service identified as potentially falling within the operational responsibility of the CJA.

Question 16 - CJA boundaries

3.54 Question 16 asked:

Should CJAs geographical boundaries remain the same? If not how should they be redrawn?

3.55 Just under two thirds of respondents addressed this question, although very few provided a "yes" or "no" response and the majority did not express a clear overall view. Where such a view was expressed, opinions were mixed, although a slightly higher proportion expressed the view that the CJA boundaries should stay the same. The same pattern was identified among the comments, where a range of reasons for the boundaries remaining the same were identified, although a large number also suggested reasons for these to be redrawn. Several respondents commented in detail on how to redraw the boundaries.

Reasons to retain CJAs' geographical boundaries

3.56 Comments on why the CJAs' geographical boundaries should remain the same included the view that it would be pointless to redraw these (e.g. because of wider concerns with the option; the view that this would not achieve desired outcomes such as joint working or reducing reoffending; or that there was a lack of evidence to support any change). It was also suggested that redrawing boundaries was unlikely to address the different needs and working relationships in different areas. A few respondents commented on positive aspects of the existing structure or existing relationships, or the potential to retain and develop established partnerships.

3.57 A concern was expressed about the imposition of "top-down" boundaries, and their impact on innovation and cross-boundary working. It was also suggested that reviewing or changing boundaries would increase complexity and exacerbate existing confusion about CJAs.

3.58 Comments were also made on difficulties of redrawing boundaries (e.g. with no way of making them coterminous with all relevant agencies or addressing the needs of island authorities), as well as the implications of redrawing boundaries to larger and smaller areas. In terms of concerns about creating larger areas, comments included that this would: replicate the arrangements in Option C; make CJAs too remote and less responsive to local need, particularly in smaller authorities; dilute CJAs' impact; be impracticable; and cause disruption. In terms of concerns about creating smaller areas, comments included that, while it could improve the local focus this would: replicate the arrangements in place prior to CJAs; increase costs; increase fragmentation; and "approach Option B".

Reasons to redraw CJAs' geographical boundaries

3.59 Where respondents identified reasons for CJAs' boundaries to be redrawn, some made general comments about the need to consider such issues if CJAs were to be maintained, while others made reference to this as a time of significant change in the justice landscape in Scotland. It was also suggested that there are problems with current boundaries (e.g. their inconsistency with other agencies; organisational overlaps; in some cases coverage of large and diverse areas; and complexity of governance and working arrangements).

3.60 Potential benefits of redrawing or removing boundaries were also identified, including: making CJA boundaries coterminous with other relevant services (with suggestions identified below); and allowing local authorities to work more imaginatively with neighbouring councils.

3.61 Some respondents suggested examining changes already made in other agencies; and considering "natural" boundaries and local priorities. Others made general comments about the need to consider: the balance between economies of scale and facilitating engagement while reflecting local needs, ensuring strong governance links with CPPs; and ensuring that existing partnerships are not dismantled unnecessarily.

3.62 Specific suggestions for boundaries included these being redrawn along the lines of:

  • The three Federation areas used by COPFS and Police Scotland.
  • Sheriffdoms.
  • Various local authority groupings.
  • Geographical "families".
  • Health Boards.
  • Existing local partnerships.

Other comments

3.63 The need for further consideration of the issues aligned to the integration of health and social care was suggested. The perceived impact of funding arrangements was also highlighted, and one respondent argued that allocations should be based on population. Several respondents suggested that other factors were more important than geographical boundaries, such as:

  • Operational and strategic relationships.
  • The ability of local authorities to make decisions about cross-authority collaboration and to work together where required.
  • The need to maintain a focus on community safety.
  • Partnership working through the CPP process.
  • Leadership arrangements.
  • Having sufficient commissioning powers to make a difference.

Question 17 - Arrangements for training and development

3.64 Question 17 asked:

Do you agree that the Scottish Government should retain the current arrangements for training and development? Should they be reviewed for effectiveness?

3.65 This question had two components, and around two thirds of respondents addressed it in some way. Over two thirds of those who addressed the question made comments on whether or not the Scottish Government should retain the current arrangements for training and development. Just under half of those who addressed it made comments on whether the arrangements should be reviewed for effectiveness. In relation to retention, most of those who made comments did not express a clear view, but made comments. Among those who did express a clear view, the majority expressed a preference for retention. Similarly, more comments on retention focused on benefits than on concerns. Among those who expressed a view of whether the arrangements should be reviewed for effectiveness, views could be ascertained in most cases, and most believed that they should.

Retention of current arrangements for training and development

3.66 Several respondents identified benefits from the Scottish Government retaining the current arrangements for training and development. These included a perceived positive role and benefits of the TDOs in terms, for example, of:

  • Rolling out national developments.
  • Supporting local initiatives.
  • Providing a national resource and additional capacity.
  • Providing a regional point of contact.
  • Developing good working relationships.

3.67 Other comments included: the need for a national overview of risk management development through the RMA; the value of nationally agreed and consistent training; and the national organisation of training on national practice. One suggested that the Scottish Government should retain responsibility and accountability for areas in which a national approach has been agreed.

3.68 A small number of concerns were raised, or other suggestions made in relation to current arrangements. A few respondents suggested that it is unnecessary to retain these in their current form, or suggested different or developed arrangements (e.g. transfer of training or the TDOs to local authorities or the RMA; further development of the role of the RMA [discussed at Question 24] or the SSSC; or their development under the guidance of the Scottish Government).

Review of current arrangements for training and development

3.69 Most of those who commented on whether current arrangements should be reviewed for effectiveness believed that they should. Among the perceived reasons for this were the need to: carry out reviews as part of good practice; ensure high standards of training and development; and meet the demands of a new system. Other perceived reasons for review included the number of organisations involved and the need for robust monitoring and evaluation. Several respondents suggested specific issues for review including:

  • The RMA structure.
  • The roles, responsibilities, deployment, capacity and effectiveness of TDOs (with some respondents identifying perceived constraints to their operation and some reiterating their value).
  • The general effectiveness of current arrangements and training.
  • Value for money.
  • Targeting of provision.
  • The level of collaboration.

3.70 A very small number suggested that a review should take place before deciding whether or not to retain current arrangements, or to inform the most effective model. One respondent stated that the review should be transparent, and a few that the positive work undertaken should be recognised.

Suggested developments and other comments

3.71 A large number of respondents suggested additional developments. Among these were developing links to, and collaboration with: relevant organisations (e.g. SSSC; RMA; IRISS; SSKS; ADSW; universities); other specialist partners; and other local authority provision. One respondent suggested links to an agreed national training programme focusing on interpersonal skills to support desistance. Some comments focused on the overall organisation of training, such as:

  • The need for national organisation or co-ordination (or a national body).
  • A national strategy.
  • A national resource.
  • Provision to meet local needs.
  • Fair distribution of resources.
  • Equitable access to training and development.
  • Joint provision.
  • Quality assurance.

3.72 Other suggestions included: the need for further consideration of particular roles (e.g. the Scottish Government, RMA and other organisations relevant to workforce development) and wider training needs. Many suggestions overlapped with others made at Question 18 and these will be discussed in more detail below. A few respondents suggested that training across boundaries and cross-sectoral training does not depend on the adoption of a specific option, or expressed support for this whatever the option.

Question 18 - Building expertise, capacity and resilience

3.73 Question 18 asked:

What could be done differently to build expertise, capacity and resilience in the community justice sector and ensure evidence based good practice is shared widely?

3.74 Around two thirds of respondents addressed this question, and a range of suggestions were made. The broad themes identified included: structural issues and ways of working; review of performance and use of evidence; workforce development; and resources.

Structural issues and ways of working

3.75 Many respondents made suggestions relating to structural or organisational issues, the nature of the overall approach and / or ways of working. Specific structural suggestions included: some form of national body (e.g. an Effective Practice Unit; dedicated "criminal justice unit" or national strategic group; National Leadership Board; partnership body; or a national forum and re-vamped local regional fora); and the use of local arrangements.

3.76 Several respondents made comments on specific roles, including those of:

  • The Scottish Government (e.g. demonstrating commitment and leadership; supporting local authorities).
  • The third sector (e.g. with greater interface with the sector).
  • The RMA (e.g. influencing and developing stronger links with others and clarifying their role; sharing practice; developing a national framework).
  • The SSSC (e.g. making this a priority area; working in partnership with others; linking to communities of practice; highlighting needs).
  • Other agencies and service (e.g. the Improvement Service; the CJ research group; the Knowledge Hub; and Skills for Justice).

3.77 Two respondents suggested improving partnership working between COPFS and community justice to fully utilise diversionary sentences, reduce criminal cases and increase capacity.

3.78 Suggestions about the overall approach and ways of working included the perceived need for:

  • A people or public protection model.
  • Development of "learning organisations".
  • Leadership.
  • Partnership working (including, where appropriate, across boundaries).
  • Integrated working.
  • Flexibility.
  • Transparency.
  • Equality.
  • Innovation.
  • Outcome-led services or an outcomes framework.
  • User involvement.
  • Engagement with victims of crime.
  • An approach that builds on existing achievements.

Review of performance and use of evidence

3.79 A further common theme was the review of performance and use of evidence. As noted, several respondents suggested a need for services to be outcome-led, and some also highlighted a need for effective performance management, with a focus upon continuous improvement. It was also suggested that there should be stronger accountability at government level and clear links between strategic leadership and accountability. One respondent suggested that an independent panel should review current issues and options and make recommendations.

3.80 Several respondents stated that there is a need for the use of evidence and intelligence to inform developments. A few suggested drawing on the experience of the English Probation Service. Specific comments were also made about the need to ensure that good practice information is shared appropriately, including with the third sector. It was argued that there is a need to improve and simplify the promotion of good practice and new research. Suggestions included: better use of specific bodies (e.g. universities; SSSC; IRISS; training departments); oversight of the organisations involved; cross-sectoral discussions; better use of the service directory; and engagement with front line workers. One respondent also suggested that CJSW departments should demonstrate a greater willingness to innovate and learn from each other.

Workforce development

3.81 The use of workforce development to achieve the issues raised in this question was also a common theme. Some respondents stressed the general need for this for all staff groups (including more specialised training for partner agencies and services). Further specific comments were also made about the organisation of training and development, and suggestions included:

  • A national approach.
  • A training strategy based on national priorities.
  • A continuous professional development framework.
  • A justice-specific training path for all workers (in parallel to other training needs).
  • Regional training and development teams working to a national strategy (and linked to student placements and practice teaching arrangements).
  • Joint or co-ordinated training.

3.82 A few suggestions were also made the need to include specific means of learning, such as: e-learning; distance learning; and secondments.


3.83 A number of comments were made about resources, including: the general need for adequate and secure funding; the links between funding and capacity or resilience; the basis of funding (e.g. to reward positive outcomes; support need and demand; and link to a strategic approach); and the approach to funding (e.g. in terms of: flexibility; equitable distribution; and sensitivity to need). A few suggestions were also made about commissioning, including a perceived need for: a suitable lead-in time if there is a need for new partnership arrangements; local authority strategic commissioning; and the adoption of a full cost recovery model.

Other comments

3.84 A few respondents highlighted additional concerns and challenges (e.g. workloads; separation of strategic and operational considerations; involvement of staff with a differing ethos or approach). A small number linked their response to this question to a specific structural option, or suggested that these improvements could be achieved within any structure. One respondent suggested a need to identify what is meant by expertise, where this is, and how best to use it.

Summary of findings: Option A

3.85 In summary, the main findings relating to Option A were as follows:

  • A very small number of respondents expressed an overall preference for Option A, but many detailed comments were made.
  • Some positive aspects were highlighted, including: strengthening the current model (and specific means of this); and the positive role of CJAs to date in, for example, promoting collaboration and providing a framework for partnership working.
  • The most common concerns related to: perceived problems with CJAs; bureaucracy, complexity and duplication; disconnection; weaknesses in performance management or accountability; resource implications; and a negative impact on practice and outcomes.
  • Views were mixed about appointing a chair and expanding membership, although the identification of concerns was the most common theme. Where positive comments were made, these focused largely on expanding membership.
  • In relation to the proposal for all Board members to be recruited through the public appointments system, the most common concerns related to the impact on local accountability.
  • Regarding whether the proposals gave CJAs sufficient levers and powers to reduce reoffending, the majority of comments and views focused on suggesting that this was not the case.
  • Where clear views could be ascertained, almost all of the respondents did not believe that CJAs should be given operational responsibility for the delivery of CJSW services, and this view was reflected in the detailed comments.
  • Respondents expressed mixed views of whether CJAs' geographical boundaries should remain the same.
  • Where clear views could be ascertained of whether the Scottish Government should retain the current arrangements for training and development, most expressed a preference for retention, and this was reflected in comments. There was also a largely shared view that the arrangements should be reviewed for effectiveness.
  • A range of suggestions were made about ways of building expertise, capacity and resilience and ensuring evidence-based good practice is shared and these focused on: structural issues and ways of working; review of performance and use of evidence; workforce development; and resources.


Email: Carole Edwards