SECTION 4: OPTION B - LOCAL AUTHORITY MODEL
4.1 This section presents the findings relating to Option B, the local authority model (Questions 19-25).
Question 19 - Overall views Option B - local authority model
4.2 Question 19 asked:
What do you think of the proposal to abolish CJAs and give the strategic and operational duties for reducing reoffending to local authorities?
4.3 Just under three quarters of respondents addressed this question. A large number also expressed their overall views of Option B at Question 32, or in other material, and these have been included here. As noted previously, this or a development of this was the option most commonly preferred by respondents. Many detailed comments were made, and by far the most common were potential benefits of this model. Much smaller numbers raised issues or concerns, or identified alternative suggestions.
Option B overall - potential benefits
4.4 Most views expressed were positive and, within this, comments most frequently related to general expressions of support and issues such as: links to CPPs; partnership working; provision to meet local needs; aspects of service effectiveness; and leadership, direction and accountability.
4.5 Many respondents stated that they favoured this, or considered it most likely to lead to the overall outcomes sought. Other general comments included that it would be: logical; sensible; strong; sustainable; simpler; and preferable to the current system.
4.6 A further common theme related to the ability to maximise existing structures and governance arrangements, with several mentioning specifically the alignment to CPPs and SOAs. It was suggested this would: enable a more co-ordinated approach to community justice services; streamline planning; and allow connections between strategy and operation. Many respondents commented on the importance of links and partnership working, and the inter-dependency of services to meet the complex needs of offenders, citing perceived opportunities to retain and develop these in this model.
4.7 Another issue raised very frequently was the opportunity for local provision to meet local needs. Respondents highlighted the perceived value of retaining the CJSW service as local authority provision. It was also stated that this model would be more responsive to local needs and priorities, with local understanding and knowledge informing commissioning and service delivery, and could provide a more flexible, integrated and holistic response to these. Linked to these views, comments were also made frequently about perceived benefits relating to a variety of aspects of service effectiveness, including:
- Sharing of best practice.
- Value for money.
- Avoidance of duplication.
- Information sharing.
- Record keeping.
- Access to out of hours emergency social work provision.
- Opportunities for workforce development.
- The overall impact upon outcomes for offenders and communities.
4.8 A large number of respondents identified benefits in terms of leadership, direction and accountability. Comments included that the Chief Social Worker role could provide leadership, with a clearer role in the CPP, and that CoSLA and authorities would also have such a role. It was also suggested that giving strategic and operational duties to local authorities would provide clear local accountability, governance and democratic control, and encourage ownership for change. It was also argued that there would be national accountability through the SOA process and reporting of performance to Scottish Ministers.
4.9 Other positive aspects or potential benefits of this model identified included: the opportunity to build on existing provision as well as cost and resource issues (e.g. low start-up costs; improved commissioning. Some identified the opportunity to make best use of resources; and protection of funding). The speed of implementation and minimal disruption was noted, as was the benefit of retaining the professional identity of social workers. The opportunity for a national voice through an extended RMA role was also identified. Several respondents also identified suggested the model's "fit" with the wider context (e.g. the Christie Commission; the personalisation agenda; the reducing reoffending agenda; the whole systems approach; prevention and early intervention; public protection; the integration of health and social care; and the social work value base). A few respondents also identified problems with the potential impact of other models or the current approach (e.g. aspects of the CJAs).
Option B overall - potential concerns or issues
4.10 Several respondents (although a much smaller number) identified potential concerns or issues with Option B. The most common related to the impact of the model on the overall pattern of service provision, and particularly upon consistency. Related comments included difficulties for the Scottish Government and other partners in linking to 32 local authorities, for example for negotiation and delivery of national initiatives and sharing good practice. It was also suggested that the model could have a negative impact on third sector organisations delivering services nationally or across multiple local authority areas, particularly smaller providers. Other concerns relating to the pattern of provision included: potential duplication; problems with boundaries; a "postcode lottery" of support; variation in standards; and the lack of an overall public "voice".
4.11 A few respondents expressed concerns relating to the means of operation of the model in relation to:
- Weaknesses in leadership.
- Difficulties in holding partners to account.
- A focus on "targets".
- A lack of offender focus.
- Increased layers of management with the potential to slow down decision making.
- The potential loss of some existing partnership delivery or arrangements or opportunities for cross-boundary working.
4.12 Other comments included: a narrow focus for workforce development; the potential loss of TDOs; and a question about whether CPPs would be willing to add reducing reoffending to their existing broad remits.
4.13 A further area of concern related to resources and commissioning. As with provision, the risk of a "postcode lottery" was raised. Additionally, one respondent argued that there would not be sufficient resources available for the model, and a few expressed concerns about the potential loss of ring-fenced funding and the implications of this (discussed further later). One respondent suggested that it would be difficult to "sell" preventative spend, and other comments included that: it would add extra layers of management, administration and communication and decrease value for money; and that it had weaknesses in terms of economies of scale. One respondent, while supporting strategic commissioning in principle, stated that it was not clear from the consultation how this would operate in practice, and argued that giving responsibility to local authorities could lead to potential conflict of interest.
4.14 A small number of comments were also made on the process of transition, with suggestions that this model would require significant changes with potential disengagement of partners. A few respondents expressed a general view that the model would be a step backwards, and another stated that it is tied to a status quo which has not promoted the type of change sought. A further respondent raised a concern that there would be insufficient expertise to support the model.
Option B overall - requirements or additional suggestions and other comments
4.15 A large number of respondents made additional comments at Question 19. In terms of specific suggestions, those made most frequently related to a perceived need for performance measurement, evaluation and review including: standards and outcomes; a performance framework; transparent self-evaluation; inspection; monitoring; reporting; and scrutiny. Some respondents stated that there would be a need to revisit the legislative functions of the CJAs and consider how to deal with their independent monitoring and reporting role.
4.16 A common perceived requirement was leadership and direction, with suggestions including: a national group, professional strategic body or other overarching "body"; visible local and national leadership; a shared vision; and links to CPP guidance. One respondent argued a need to accept and respect the local democratic mandate to make local decisions about need and priorities. Several respondents also suggested a need for partnership working including:
- Partnerships between authorities.
- The use of local partnerships.
- Development of PSPs.
- Integration into new health and social care partnerships.
- Co-operation with national partners.
- Shared responsibility.
- Shared services.
- Agreements and protocols.
- Information sharing.
4.17 A number of comments related to the importance of clear and direct links to and integration with the CPP process and SOAs, and the need for a commitment by CPPs to reducing reoffending. One respondent identified a perceived need to align political and operational responsibility for reducing reoffending with improved CPP arrangements, with reducing reoffending plans as part of the CPP / SOA arrangements.
4.18 A small number of respondents made comments on specific roles in relation to Option B, for example:
- The need for engagement with ADSW / CoSLA / and the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives [SOLACE].
- The need for clarity of the RMA role.
- The importance of ongoing input from the RMA and other learning resources.
- Work by the Scottish Government to ensure national support for reducing reoffending.
4.19 One respondent argued that there would be a need for the health sector to review and refocus its involvement in community planning. Additional perceived requirements included: the involvement of the third sector on an equal basis; and engagement with offenders and families. Some identified issues relating to resources including comments on a need for: consistent funding; costing of service delivery; a flexible formula; strategic commissioning and ring-fenced funding. Comments were also made on statutory responsibilities with suggestions including: statutory responsibility lying with the local authority for reducing reoffending; a statutory duty on partners for service delivery or a statutory duty for co-operation; and on workforce development (e.g. a need for a dedicated training resource).
Question 20 - Consistency, good practice and cross boundary planning and commissioning
4.20 Question 20 asked:
What do you think will be the impact on consistency of service provision, good practice and the potential to plan and commission services across boundaries (and hence value for money) of moving from eight CJAs to 32 local authorities?
4.21 Just under three quarters of respondents addressed this question, with comments made on each of the separate issues explored (consistency, good practice and planning and commissioning) as well as general comments and suggestions. Of the three specific issues, comments on planning and commissioning and consistency were the most common, although several respondents also made comments on good practice. Although positive and negative impacts were identified for each, comments on the potential impact on planning and commissioning and on good practice were most frequently positive; whereas those relating to the potential impact on consistency were most frequently negative.
Impact on consistency
4.22 The majority of comments about the impact on consistency were concerns relating to this. Some of these overlapped with comments made at Question 19. A few respondents stressed the general importance of a consistent level of provision, while the main issues raised related to:
- Potential variation in service provision.
- Variation in prioritising specific issues.
- Danger of a "postcode lottery".
- Challenges for third sector providers.
- Difficulties in negotiation.
- Difficulties in monitoring and oversight.
- Inconsistency in the outcomes measured.
- Challenges in meeting national priorities.
4.23 A few respondents expressed the view that there would be no specific impact of this model on consistency. Some identified benefits of variation (e.g. the ability to respond to local needs and priorities), or suggested particular ways of promoting consistency (e.g. national oversight and leadership; a shared strategy, national standards and guidance; partnerships; the use of SOAs; the use of legislation; communication and co-operation; workforce development; and performance indicators, scrutiny, reporting and accountability).
Impact on good practice
4.24 Fewer comments were made on the impact of the model on good practice, and most related to the potential positive impact on this. Comments included that the model would promote good practice through, for example: a close relationship between strategy and operation; connection to other services; and the provision of holistic support.
4.25 Concerns raised (by a very small number of respondents) related to the potential for different interpretation of duties, and the lack of mechanisms to identify and share best practice. Several respondents identified the general importance of sharing good practice or made suggestions about promoting this, which included: setting standards; performance management; clear procedures to raise concerns; co-operation; sharing examples; involvement by CPPs, ADSW and CoSLA; roll out of successful approaches; and workforce development.
Impact on potential to plan and commission services across boundaries
4.26 Most comments on the impact on cross-boundary planning and commissioning related to the potential positive impact or lack of negative impact on this. A number commented on existing and previous local authority experience of developing shared services or cross-boundary working. Local authority commitment as part of public sector reforms was identified, as were potential opportunities to develop existing collaboration and new forms of joint working. Some identified the use of national outcomes and standards; and suggested that the proposals would bring improved value for money. It was also suggested that there had been a lack of CJA involvement in these arrangements to date, and the model would remove the constraints imposed by the separation of strategy and operation.
4.27 Several respondents however, identified concerns. These included: the general challenge of this, or the overall view that the model may limit or inhibit this. Some expressed concern about the number of authorities involved, or pointed to: experience in other fields; demographic variations; and difficulties in proportionate funding.
4.28 Several respondents made suggestions about how to undertake planning and commissioning across boundaries, and some stressed the general importance of this. Suggestions included: the use of legislation to confirm the opportunity to plan and commission services jointly; examination of ways of undertaking co-commissioning; and the use of evidence to underpin developments. Other suggestions including: the need for appropriate funding arrangements (e.g. longer term, flexible, full cost recovery); use of guidance; and appropriate ways of working (e.g. strategic; innovative; flexible). Comments were also made on the roles of specific organisations in promoting and supporting cross-boundary planning and commissioning.
4.29 One respondent expressed concerns about imposing services or ways of working which are best for one authority on all. Further suggestions included: potential variation in impact by the nature of the authority; the impact of the wider agenda; and the view that the same issues would also apply to a range of other services.
Question 21 - Regional partnership, provision or co-ordination
4.30 Question 21 asked:
Do you think there is still a requirement for a regional partnership, provision or co-ordination role (formally or informally) in this model? If so, how would it work?
4.31 Over two thirds of respondents addressed this question. A majority expressed a clear view, and among these, a majority expressed the view that there was a still a requirement, in this model, for a regional partnership, provision or co-ordination role. Very few expressed disagreement with this. Most comments related to potential benefits of such an arrangement. A large number of respondents also made suggestions about such an approach. Very few respondents raised issues with this, reflecting the overall pattern of views identified.
Potential benefits - regional partnership, provision or co-ordination
4.32 The majority of comments made focused on the perceived need for, or the positive aspects of regional partnership, provision or co-ordination. Several respondents stressed the general importance or benefit of such arrangements. A few respondents expressed a view that such arrangements would be important whichever option was adopted. Several qualified their view (e.g. to suggest that the need may vary by the nature of authorities' areas or circumstances; or that it should take place where it is considered appropriate or beneficial).
4.33 Comments were made frequently on the value and effectiveness of existing partnership arrangements, and the opportunity to build on these, as well as to make other arrangements where beneficial. Other perceived benefits included the opportunity for: developing the effectiveness of services and the impact on outcomes; supporting smaller authorities; effective commissioning; and providing shared services. It was also suggested that such arrangements would help to enable: equity and consistency in planning and service provision; involvement of the third sector; promotion of good practice; improved accountability; and value for money (e.g. through economies of scale).
Potential concerns or issues - regional partnership, provision or co-ordination
4.34 The only issue raised with this approach focused on a lack of perceived need. A few respondents commented generally that this was not needed, while a few commented specifically on formal arrangements (e.g. because of existing local strategic plans; existing informal arrangements; or the opportunity in the model for cross-boundary planning, commissioning and delivery of shared services). One respondent argued that formalising arrangements would add bureaucracy.
Suggestions and other comments
4.35 A large number of respondents made additional suggestions about regional partnership, provision or co-ordination, with the most common relating to the nature of the arrangements. These included comments on the overall nature (e.g. as formal or informal, and the need for flexibility) or specific arrangements (e.g. adopting a particular model; using a formal agreement; and having a "hub" for sharing good practice). Some also commented on how to develop regional arrangements. Suggestions were also made about the overall role of partnerships (e.g. monitoring; planning; identifying training needs; sharing best practice)and the need to consider the nature of areas; participants and roles.
4.36 Among other comments made, several respondents provided examples of existing arrangements. One suggested that the expanded RMA functions in the model already include a forum to share good practice, and support service and workforce development. A few respondents expressed general concerns about how this might work in this model. One respondent made specific comments on national service commissioning, in relation to when and how this should take place.
Question 22 - Reducing reoffending in CPP and other local authority planning structures
4.37 Question 22 asked:
What do you think would be the impact of reducing reoffending being subsumed within community planning, or other local authority planning structures?
4.38 Over two thirds of respondents addressed this question, and the majority of comments focused on a perceived positive impact or benefits of this.
Positive impact and benefits - reducing reoffending in CPP or other local authority planning structures
4.39 A large number of respondents identified that the impact of reducing reoffending being subsumed within CPP or other local authority planning structures would be positive, or stressed its importance or potential. Among comments on the nature of the positive impact and benefits, the most common theme related to the roles and responsibilities of those involved in reducing reoffending, their relevance to community planning and local authority activity, and the opportunity to promote collective responsibility and ownership. It was also suggested that CPPs have had an insufficient role in this to date.
4.40 A further positive impact identified frequently was the potential for such an approach to promote co-operation and partnership working, as well as enabling strategic planning, commissioning, and procurement of services to meet needs with jointly agreed priorities, actions and outcomes. Several respondents also made comments on the potential for a greater integration and mainstreaming of community justice including, for example, with wider service planning and delivery, other priorities, the work of other partnerships and holistic working. Another common theme was the potential impact on the nature, effectiveness and efficiency of services, in terms, for example of: meeting local needs within a consistent overall framework; and promoting positive outcomes for service users.
4.41 Several respondents made comments on the "fit" with existing arrangements and knowledge, making it possible to implement this readily, as well as providing the opportunity to build on existing mechanisms. It was also suggested that the inclusion of reducing reoffending as a priority in SOAs provided a positive opportunity for its inclusion in CPPs. In terms of the wider agenda, it was also suggested that this approach would be consistent with public sector reform.
4.42 Additional comments included that this approach would:
- Keep the issue on the agenda.
- Maximise opportunities for a national framework.
- Recognise the need to engage with communities.
- Improve accountability.
- Improve use of resources and enable access to other funding streams.
Potential concerns or issues - reducing reoffending in CPP or other local authority planning structures
4.43 The concern raised most frequently (albeit by a small number of respondents) related to the level of priority that would be given to community justice issues. A few respondents suggested that the approach should not involve the issue being "subsumed", or argued that this implied limited attention. Small numbers also identified: a potential impact upon workload and capacity; concerns about a focus on targets rather than outcomes; concern about difficulties of "selling" preventative spend; and challenges for third sector providers in being able to access and engage with multiple CPPs. A very small number suggested that variation between CPPs could be reflected in variations in services.
Suggestions and other comments
4.44 Some respondents commented on perceived barriers to this approach (e.g. past funding and reporting arrangements and lack of involvement or awareness in this area by CPPs). Comments were also made on elements of the overall approach that should be taken, including a perceived need for:
- Support to CPPs to take on a more significant community justice role.
- The provision of guidance.
- Priority and profile for community justice.
- Recognition of the wider agenda.
- Good partnership arrangements.
- The use of statutory responsibility.
- Strategic plans.
- Robust accountability and oversight.
- Full analysis of local needs.
- The avoidance of partnerships becoming "talking shops".
- Explicit targets, performance indicators and reporting requirements.
4.45 Suggestions were also made about the need for consideration of funding and resources (e.g. clarification of the resource implications; provision of ring-fenced funding; and consideration of resource transfer arrangements from CJAs to local authorities).
4.46 Among the other comments made, a small number of respondents identified current arrangements, while one expressed the view that the inclusion of reoffending in community plans would be unlikely to have any major effect, given the range of factors that impact on this, and would be difficult to measure.
Question 23 - Devolved responsibility for some functions
4.47 Question 23 asked:
Do you agree that functions such as programme accreditation, development of good practice, performance management and workforce development should be devolved from the Government to an organisation with the appropriate skills and experience?
4.48 Just over two thirds of respondents addressed this question, and clear views were stated or implied in around half of these cases. Where such views could be identified, most suggested that these functions should be devolved to an organisation with appropriate skills and experience. This pattern was reflected in the balance of specific comments, with more comments on positive aspects.
Potential benefits - devolved responsibility
4.49 Some respondents expressed their general support for this, while others identified the need for a single organisation; or that it was either unnecessary or inappropriate for the Scottish Government to carry out this role. Most additional comments focused on the opportunity to provide an overall national framework, oversight and consistency, including in relation to aspects of training, common standards, sharing best practice and guidance. A few respondents made comments on the need for specific expertise and capacity to carry out these functions; or the specialist nature of community justice work and the benefits of national specialist training.
4.50 Several respondents, however, expressed qualifications, such as that: some of the functions should be devolved; and that the organisation tasked with this must be able to demonstrate competence.
Potential concerns or issues - devolved responsibility
4.51 Among the issues identified, a few respondents indicated that the Scottish Government should continue to have a key role in this. A few suggested that existing arrangements had been effective, and a small number raised a concern about there being a single agency with the appropriate skills and experience to undertake the tasks proposed. Some raised concerns with the inclusion of particular functions within those suggested, particularly performance management, and, in the view of a few respondents, workforce development. One expressed concerns about the risk of devolving the roles to the private sector, and the risk of duplication of responsibility and reporting requirements.
General comments and suggestions
4.52 A number of comments were made on existing roles in relation to these functions, and suggestions for roles in the future. Several respondents commented on the need to recognise existing roles and responsibilities and to use existing skills and experience. A few suggested considering whether existing bodies could take on these functions (e.g. with the Scottish Government commissioning or tendering the activity if this were not the case). A number of comments were made about the role of the RMA and the potential extension of their role.
4.53 Comments were also made about the role of the Scottish Government (e.g. in leading; overseeing; co-ordinating the functions); the SSSC (e.g. in qualifications, training, standards and workforce development); the Improvement Service; IRISS; the Scottish Advisory Panel for Offender Rehabilitation; educational institutions; and ADSW. Comments were also made about the role of the Care Inspectorate (e.g. in performance management) and the general involvement of local authorities. Some respondents suggested a national board to oversee the functions and a few suggested the addition of a Community Justice Unit. One respondent suggest that the role of Customer Service Excellence inspections should also be considered.
4.54 A number of suggestions were also made about ways of taking this forward (e.g. engagement with the statutory and voluntary sectors; review of current arrangements; clarity of roles). Comments were also made about ways of working, particularly the need to work collaboratively. Several respondents made specific comments on workforce development and training, such as: the value of a national approach (whoever were to lead); the importance of local training and development; the need for different types of provision; and the need to include a range of staff. A small number of respondents made general comments on other issues such as: perceived issues with accreditation; difficulties in measuring performance; and suggested means of sharing best practice.
4.55 A few respondents commented on the question itself (e.g. that it was designed to lead to Option C, or that it would depend on which organisation was tasked with the role).
Question 24 - Expansion of the functions of the RMA
4.56 Question 24 asked:
What are your views on the proposal to expand the functions of the Risk Management Authority to take responsibility for improving performance?
4.57 Around two thirds of respondents addressed this question. As noted previously, comments on the role of the RMA were also made at other questions, and these have been included below. Potential concerns or issues with this suggestion were most common, although benefits were also identified. Additional comments and suggestions were made on the nature of the approach that should be taken, and the role of the RMA.
Potential benefits - expansion of the functions of the RMA
4.58 A small number of respondents expressed their overall agreement with this proposal, or identified this as an important aspect of giving operational responsibility to local authorities. Some respondents highlighted specific benefits of the proposal and these included: the benefits of a national approach to improving performance (e.g. consistency); and the nature or strengths of the RMA. A few respondents qualified their comments (e.g. by suggesting that the expansion would depend on other developments, such as the supporting structure, capacity and inclusion of factors other than risk; or stating that some aspects of performance improvement should be at a local level).
Potential concerns or issues - expansion of the functions of the RMA
4.59 Many respondents expressed concerns or identified issues with the suggested expansion of RMA functions to include responsibility for improving performance. Some stated their overall disagreement with this, expressed the general view that the RMA would not be the most appropriate body for this, or stated the proposal to expand the role of the RMA may be pre-emptive. The two areas of concern highlighted most frequently, however, related to: the ability or appropriateness of the RMA to undertake this; and the role of others in performance improvement.
4.60 A large number of respondents raised concerns about the ability or appropriateness of the RMA to take on these responsibilities. Several expressed concerns about whether the RMA would have the resources, capacity, skills, expertise or experience. Comments were also made on the nature of the role of the RMA, including, for example, that their expertise is in risk management and that there may be a lack of operational expertise. A few respondents also expressed concerns about ways of working, as well as that:
- The focus on management of risk could be diluted.
- The role in approval of Risk Management Plans for Orders for Lifelong Restriction (OLR), and their scrutiny role could be compromised.
- There may be too much focus on high risk offenders.
4.61 A further area of concern for a large number of respondents related to the role of others in performance improvement. Issues raised included views that:
- This should be a core function or expectation of local authorities.
- Responsibility for improving performance should be with those delivering and overseeing services.
- There are existing mechanisms in place for performance improvement.
- CPPs and the Care Inspectorate have a role in this.
- Local authorities should not be accountable to the RMA.
4.62 A small number of other concerns related to: the size of the agenda; local variation in issues of performance; costs; accountability issues; implications for others; level of bureaucracy; and a lack of evidence to support the proposal.
The nature of the approach and the role of the RMA
4.63 Suggestions on the overall nature of the approach to performance improvement included a perceived need for collaborative and partnership working; and a whole system approach. Other suggestions included the need for: clear indicators and targets; guidance and communication; and account to be taken of issues for remote and rural areas.
4.64 A number of suggestions were made about the general approach for the RMA included a need for: a more responsive relationship between the RMA and local authorities and commissioned services; a cross-sectoral role; and clarity of roles. In addition, a "fit" with existing structures and the roles of others; and links to other relevant bodies with a role in performance improvement were also suggested, as was the need to have a balance of management of risks and an asset based approach.
4.65 A number of comments were made on the specific nature of the RMA's role. Suggestions included a role in:
- Workforce development and training.
- The provision of a research base.
- The development of training and tools relating to risk management and violent offenders.
- The development of the Framework for Risk Assessment, Management and Evaluation.
- Specific existing functions relating to OLR.
- Data analysis and performance overview.
- The roll out of new initiatives.
- Communication on the progress and impact of performance improvement initiatives.
4.66 A few respondents suggested an alternative approach (e.g. the use of a Community Justice Unit; division of the responsibilities to specific areas; or approaches involving other organisations or bodies). One respondent argued that there is a need to consider the role of the Scottish Government in overseeing an expanded role.
4.67 A small number of respondents made general comments on the national component of performance improvement, without necessarily expressing a view of the RMA role. One respondent suggested a focus on how to disband Quangos, and another a focus on effective management of offenders. A small number suggested that the role of the RMA should be determined by a national board, or that more detail would be required.
4.68 A few made comments on the nature of the question or document (e.g. that it: appears to conflate performance management and improvement; focuses primarily on the performance of CJSW and not key partners; and sends out a concerning message about the need to improve practice country wide).
Question 25 - National Leadership Group
4.69 Question 25 asked:
What are your views on the proposal to set up a national Scottish Government / Convention of Scottish Local Authorities Leadership Group to provide national leadership and direction?
4.70 Over two thirds of respondents addressed this question. Most identified potential benefits of such a national group. A large number of respondents also made comments on the nature of arrangements seen to be required. A very small number expressed concerns or raised issues with this proposal.
Potential benefits - national leadership group
4.71 Among the positive comments, some respondents expressed the general view that this would be helpful, or that they would support or welcome a national group or arrangement. A few qualified comments were made including that this: may assist transition; may not need to be permanent nor need legislation; or may not be as effective as a new agency. Other comments included that: it should oversee offender management as a whole; and should involve all local authorities.
4.72 The most common perceived benefits of a national group were identified as relating to the provision of national direction, overview and consistency. It was also suggested that this would allow closer links between partners at a national level and between national and local partners (e.g. allowing local issues to be raised at a national level).Comments included helping to promote:
- A national perspective (linked to wider public protection duties).
- Shared vision, policy and practice.
- Clear priorities.
- Outcomes and standards.
- Political direction.
- Collective accountability.
4.73 Other positive aspects of a national group were identified as including opportunities to:
- Promote and share best practice with all partners.
- Raise the profile of the issues and provide a clear identity and voice.
- Ensure implementation of research findings.
- Analyse trends.
- Encourage partnership working and address barriers to this.
- Enable engagement and promote dialogue with other partners.
- Promote effective community planning.
Potential concerns or issues - national leadership group
4.74 A very small number of respondents identified concerns, including that: the proposal may not be beneficial for regional requirements; the capacity of the group would be limited; and the group may not have the necessary sectoral expertise. A few respondents identified different means of achieving leadership, a framework and accountability.
The nature of arrangements and other comments
4.75 A large number of respondents made comments on the nature of the arrangements considered to be required. The most common related to participants for inclusion in the group, within which several respondents identified a need for a range of organisations, including other partners. Some respondents mentioned specific partners for inclusion, such as: police; health; the SPS; judiciary; the third sector; RSLs; professional social work (e.g. ADSW and the Government social work advisor).
4.76 Some comments were also made about aspects of the role and functioning of the group. It was suggested that there is a need to consider: how to avoid duplication; how the group would interact with local authorities; and how to address national / local links or potential conflict. Suggestions were also made about its key principles; the powers of the group; chairing arrangements; and its overall role (e.g. inclusion of the wider people or public protection agenda; and agreement of the longer term national strategy for community justice). One respondent suggested that some members should be appointed through the public appointments process.
4.77 Among a small number of other suggestions was a perceived need for: a structure to support the objectives; resource capacity for a senior officer to represent Chief Social Workers nationally; and an arrangement to provide collective local political leadership on community justice. A few respondents identified the need for equivalent provision within alternative proposals.
Summary of findings: Option B
4.78 In summary, the main findings relating to Option B were as follows:
- Option B (or a development of this) was the option most commonly preferred by respondents.
- The most common benefits were seen to relate to: links to CPPs; partnership working; meeting local needs; aspects of service effectiveness; and leadership, direction and accountability.
- The most common concerns related to the impact on the overall pattern of provision and consistency.
- Comments on the impact of the model on planning and commissioning, and good practice were most frequently positive, while those relating to consistency were most frequently negative.
- The majority of those who expressed a clear view suggested that there was still a requirement, in this model, for a regional partnership or co-ordination role.
- The majority of comments made about the impact of reducing reoffending being subsumed within community planning, or other local authority planning structures, focused on a positive impact, or benefits of this.
- Where clear views could be ascertained, most respondents suggested that functions such as programme accreditation, development of good practice, performance management and workforce development (or at least some of these) should be devolved from the Government to an organisation with the appropriate skills and experience.
- The majority of comments about extending the functions of the RMA to include improving performance were negative, and a number of concerns were raised.
- Views of the proposal to set up a national Scottish Government / CoSLA leadership group were largely positive.
Email: Carole Edwards