Publication - Research and analysis

Redesigning the Community Justice System: Analysis of Consultation Responses

Published: 4 Oct 2013
Part of:
Research
ISBN:
9781782569411

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.

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Contents
Redesigning the Community Justice System: Analysis of Consultation Responses
SECTION 5: OPTION C - SINGLE SERVICE MODEL

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SECTION 5: OPTION C - SINGLE SERVICE MODEL

5.1 This section presents the findings relating to Option C, the single service model (Questions 26-31).

Question 26 - Overall views Option C - single service model

5.2 Question 26 asked:

What are your views on the proposal to abolish the eight CJAs and establish a new single social work led service for community justice?

5.3 Around three quarters of respondents addressed this question. Additionally, a large number expressed their views of Option C at Question 32, or in other material, and these have been included here. In terms of respondents' overall views of the options, a small number of respondents expressed a preference for Option C. Many detailed comments were made, and the majority of these focused on areas of concern with the model. Many respondents, however, whatever their preferred model overall, identified positive aspects of this option.

Option C overall - Potential benefits

5.4 Most of those who addressed this question identified potential benefits of Option C, among which a small number identified this as their overall preference. Other general comments included that the model would: support the recommendations of the Commission on Women Offenders; represent a radical change; and emphasise social work values.

5.5 The benefits of this option which were highlighted most commonly related to the promotion of consistency (e.g. in approach; service planning; standards and goals; access to support) and the simplification of the overall structure. Linked to the overall pattern of provision, several respondents suggested that a national approach would give CJSW greater influence in the overall landscape, or a national voice and representation for community justice concerns. It was suggested, for example, that this would help ensure priority for reducing reoffending.

5.6 A further common theme related to accountability (e.g. stronger; simplified; and strategic; as well as centralised scrutiny of commissioning). It was also suggested that this model would have a single reporting structure and robust governance. A few respondents stated that it would provide benefits in performance management; the collection of evidence and dissemination of best practice. A few also argued that there would be benefits in terms of clearly defined leadership.

5.7 The other broad area of benefits identified for this option were related to cost and resource issues, and particularly the potential for economies of scale (e.g. in terms of a single budget, procurement and the opportunity to commission on a national basis). Other comments included that it would ensure sharing of resources for national priorities and equitable distribution.

5.8 Some respondents identified positive aspects of this model in terms of: promoting joint working and alignment to other organisations at a national level and increasing accessibility for third sector organisations. Very small numbers in each case also stated that the model could enable: "appeal" for problems accessing services; support to service users who move between areas; community understanding of the service. Among a very small number of other comments were that the model could: take account of national and local issues; respond to changing need; and provide access to wider training and information sharing.

Option C overall - Potential concerns or issues

5.9 A significant number of potential concerns or issues were identified in relation to Option C. Several respondents stated specifically that: they did not support this model; there was not a need for this type of change; it was a backward step; or that there were other ways of achieving the outcomes sought.

5.10 A number of specific areas of concern were identified by a large number of respondents. The issues raised most frequently related to concerns about links and partnership working between CJSW and other relevant services. Concerns included:

  • The importance of local services and these links.
  • The disconnection of CJSW from these (e.g. other social work team, other local authority services, the third sector and other local partners).
  • Separation from local planning and commissioning.
  • Damage to existing links.

5.11 Closely linked to this, a large number of respondents raised concerns about the implications for local issues, with comments including:

  • The importance of having a local basis for services.
  • The loss of local connections and understanding.
  • Disconnection from communities.
  • Lack of responsiveness to local needs and priorities (including in rural and island areas).
  • Barriers to access to services.

5.12 Another area of concern highlighted by a large number of respondents related to the perceived cost of this option (e.g. its cost-effectiveness; start-up, infrastructure, implementation and ongoing costs; and diversion of resources). A further common area of concern related to practical issues (e.g. disruption for service users, staff and other stakeholders; the need for legislation; delays in decision making; difficulties in information sharing; and the time needed to develop an infrastructure). Some raised issues with the overall pattern of provision (e.g. the need to work in partnership with 32 local authorities; further "clutter"; fragmentation and the lack of a holistic approach). Concerns were also voiced about the overall nature of the organisation (e.g. process-led; top down; bureaucratic; a potential loss of social work ethos and values; lack of flexibility; and lack of innovation).

5.13 A large number of respondents also identified concerns relating to the evidence base for the model (e.g. lack of evidence that it would deliver the outcomes sought; prior experience in England and Wales; lack of comparability to the police). Also very common were concerns about the potential negative impact on specific outcomes (e.g. culture; public protection and safety; reducing reoffending; youth justice work; and perceptions of offenders); and on local accountability. Several respondents also raised concerns about the impact of the model on staff and workforce issues (e.g. changes to pay or terms and conditions; transfer and loss of staff and skills; lack of mobility; loss of professional identity; and limitations to training opportunities).

5.14 Other potential concerns identified (by smaller numbers of respondents) included: lack of "fit" with the wider agenda (e.g. the principles of the Christie Commission; the integration of health and social care; and community sentencing); challenges and barriers to involvement for small third sector organisations; concerns about specific roles (e.g. the Chief Social Worker; and the focus of the Community Justice Unit); and the risk to services should the option fail.

Option C overall - requirements or additional suggestions and other comments

5.15 Some respondents expressed the general need for further consideration of a number of issues and implications relating to the model, should this option be chosen. Where specific suggestions were made, the most common was the perceived need for a mechanism to ensure a focus on local issues, and a commitment to local delivery and accountability. Specific comments were made on the need to form partnerships and to link to CPPs and others. It was also suggested that there would be a need to explore how the model would function in relation to the integration of health and social care.

5.16 Some suggestions were made about roles and responsibilities, including:

  • ADSW (e.g. to inform the service and ensure social work values remain central).
  • SSSC (and the implications for statutory responsibilities).
  • The Chief Social Worker (e.g. clarification of the role).
  • Social service sector staff (e.g. social work representation on the national board).
  • The third sector (e.g. strong representation and inclusion in the national board).

5.17 Some respondents suggested that there would be a need to revisit the legislative functions of the CJAs and consider how to deal with their monitoring and reporting role. It was also suggested that there would be a need to: consider and not duplicate the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) in England and Wales; consider and address accountability and workforce issues; and manage change. One respondent suggested an examination of how such approaches work in other jurisdictions.

5.18 Other suggestions included the need for: national guidance and local commissioning / delivery; a statutory duty; strong leadership; funding for local priorities and successful services; and evaluation.

5.19 A few respondents made other comments including: that this appeared to be the Government's preferred option; that the option focused only on service delivery, or only on the CJSW service or structure; and that only limited information was given about how the option would work.

Question 27 - Incorporation of RMA functions

5.20 Question 27 asked:

What do you think of the proposal to incorporate the functions of the Risk Management Authority into a new single service?

Overall views

5.21 Around two thirds of respondents addressed this question. The majority of comments focused on benefits.

Potential benefits - incorporation of RMA functions

5.22 Some respondents expressed their general support for this suggestion, or stated that they did not object. Most of the respondents who identified positive aspects of this proposal, however, made a direct link to the adoption of Option C (i.e. by suggesting that they considered it appropriate if this was the chosen option, or stating that they did not support the option overall). A small number of other qualifications or conditions were also identified, including: compatibility with RMA functions; retention of impartiality and effectiveness of the RMA role; provision of adequate resources; and the inclusion of practitioners in the skill mix.

5.23 Among the specific benefits highlighted, the most common related to the impact of the suggestion on the overall structure of provision. Comments included that the proposal would:

  • Address the concern that responsibility for service improvement should not lie with an external body.
  • Reduce the number of bodies.
  • Deliver a more equitable service.
  • Allow the RMA and CJSW to sit together.
  • Join up the risk-need-responsivity (RNR) approach with a person-centred solution focused way of working.

5.24 Other positive aspects identified were that it would: reduce risk and promote public protection and community safety; and enable staff to become more familiar with the purpose of the RMA and enable greater access to development in risk management practices.

Potential concerns or issues - incorporation of RMA functions

5.25 The most frequent concerns raised (by small numbers of respondents in each case) related to the impact on the role of the RMA. For example, one respondent stated that they considered that the proposal may undermine the validity and delivery of the RMA's statutory functions, while a few stated that there may be a conflict of interest between the role of the RMA in assessing and approving risk management plans for OLRs and the supervision of such high risk cases. It was also suggested that there may be problems in maintaining the overarching RMA remit in relation to other agencies, as well as in developing innovation and preventative work at a lower level. Other areas of concern identified included the potential loss of objectivity and independence; the potential dilution of the RMA's established role, ownership and credibility; and concerns about its links and role in relation to other relevant organisations (e.g. the Care Inspectorate; the Community Justice Unit; SSSC; IRISS; the SPS; police; and health). One respondent highlighted the value of an external agency.

5.26 A small number additional comments were made about the overall nature and functions of the RMA (e.g. the need for review; further discussion; clearer definition; and separation of operational and strategic responsibilities) or the way the functions could be incorporated. It was also suggested that additional staffing and training would be required.

5.27 One respondent identified the need for a continuing high priority to be given the management of risk, while another argued that there would be a need for equal respect and consideration to be given to core social work values. One respondent suggested that consideration should be given to the potential to bring the risk management plan approval process alongside the work of the parole board, and another that there should be Scottish Government oversight of the whole system.

Question 28 - Three Federation model

5.28 Question 28 asked:

What do you think about grouping local delivery around the three Federation model currently employed by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and police?

5.29 Just under three quarters of respondents addressed this question. A larger number of these voiced concerns with the proposal than identified potential benefits.

Potential benefits - three Federation model

5.30 Some respondents made general positive comments to suggest that the proposal was sensible or logical, sometimes linking this to views about the adoption of the option overall. A small number of respondents expressed other conditions or qualifications, such as:

  • Providing arrangements work well for other services.
  • The need for strong linkage at local authority level.
  • Responsiveness to local need.
  • Service delivery based on smaller local sub-divisions.
  • Having a Chief Social Worker in each area.

5.31 The main focus of positive comments was on the alignment and coterminosity with other services. It was suggested, for example, that this could enable operational benefits, closer links and the development of a common agenda. It was also stated that there may be benefits in the correlation of leadership and management structures. In terms of other potential benefits, one respondent stated that the establishment of Area Directors should create efficient lines of communication and responsibility between national strategic planning and local delivery. Another argued that there may be further benefits if the Scottish Court Service and Sheriffdoms also reflected these boundaries.

Potential concerns or issues - three Federation model

5.32 A few respondents expressed general concerns, or lack of support for the proposal or the option as a whole. The most commonly raised specific concerns related to the perceived impact on local services and links. Comments were made on:

  • The importance of local links and services.
  • The lack of compatibility with local service delivery.
  • The remoteness of the Federations from local partners, individuals and communities.
  • The dilution of ability of services to respond to local need.
  • The loss of existing local links and partnerships.

5.33 One respondent stated that, while the model would benefit the services mentioned, it would not benefit other partners.

5.34 A further common concern related to the nature of areas. For example, concerns were expressed that the areas would be large, and could cover widely different areas. It was suggested that the size of the areas could lead to problems in achieving: effective local partnerships; shared cultural identity; and prioritisation and meeting of local needs, particularly in smaller authority areas. One respondent stated that it would not be possible for senior management to attend meetings in remote areas, which may delay decision making there. A few stated that further subdivision would be required, with some respondents noting that this has happened in the police service. It was also suggested that the proposal would not be compatible with boundaries of other relevant services (e.g. local authority, health board and the third sector).

5.35 Several respondents also expressed concerns about the supporting evidence for the proposal, including:

  • A lack of evidence to show if the model would be effective or would impact on outcomes.
  • A lack of evidence that change is needed.
  • Perceived problems with the implementation of the Federation model elsewhere.
  • Problems in comparing CJSW to the other services.

5.36 Other concerns (identified by small numbers of respondents in each case) related to: structure and organisation (e.g. increasing bureaucracy; and making the CSWO role more challenging); funding and costs (e.g. difficulties in allocation of S27 funding; inequality in allocation; and the costs of establishing a local presence); and the lack of "fit" with the wider agenda (e.g. the reform agenda and the Christie Commission).

Question 29 - Balance of national and local needs - strategic commissioning and procurement

5.37 Question 29 asked:

Does the approach to strategic commissioning and procurement provide a good balance between local and national service priorities and needs?

5.38 Around two thirds of respondents addressed this question, but only around a third of these expressed a clear overall view of their agreement or disagreement. Where such views were identifiable, however, the majority suggested that they did not believe the approach provided a good balance between local and national service priorities and needs. This was reflected in the pattern of detailed comments.

Potential benefits - balancing local and national priorities and needs

5.39 A small number of respondents indicated that they supported the approach, or believed that it would provide a good balance. A few expressed positive views of particular aspects of the proposal or its implications, for example the provision of national oversight; the acknowledgement that commissioning may be delegated or an approach based on national commissioning, where appropriate, and local commissioning. The Scottish Government's ambition to work with local partners to undertake strategic commissioning based on needs, evidence and value for money was also noted.

5.40 Small numbers of respondents made positive comments about the potential impact of the proposal in terms of: improved consistency and approach; a focus on outcomes or evidence in commissioning; meaningful national standards; fair access to resources; economies of scale; and the empowerment of partners.

Concerns - balancing local and national priorities and needs

5.41 A small number of respondents indicated that they did not agree that a good balance would be provided with this option, or that they supported another approach. Where particular reasons were given, comments related most frequently to views of the actual nature of the ensuing balance. A few respondents highlighted the different needs between different types of area and a specific concern about a potential negative impact on remote and rural areas. Other comments include, for example, that there would be:

  • More alignment with the national agenda.
  • Insufficient local focus.
  • A lack of awareness of, and responsiveness to local need.
  • Potential conflict of interest.

5.42 A further broad area of concern related to aspects of the overall approach, particularly: the complexity (e.g. with the addition of an extra layer; or the general potential for confusion); and the perceived difficulties inherent in taking account of local needs and opportunities (e.g. with a lack of local accountability; size of the areas; capacity of the Directors; lack of flexibility; and a single approach to a complex service). A small number of respondents raised concerns about the implications for particular types of work, for example: Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA); local partnerships; cross-service initiatives; the work of smaller local third sector organisations; and other local services (including "non-justice" services).

Requirements or suggestions and other comments

5.43 The most common additional suggestions related to the importance of local needs and priorities, and the requirement to address these. Small numbers of respondents made suggestions relating to other issues such as:

  • Staff and workforce issues (e.g. the need for skills to effectively commission and procure services).
  • Links and relationships (e.g. a duty to co-operate, alignment to commissioning and procurement of other relevant provision).
  • Funding (e.g. removal of barriers, and value for money).
  • Evaluation of the Reducing Reoffending Change Fund.

5.44 A range of other perceived requirements were identified, including flexibility in national and local commissioning; attention to rural and island areas; and avoidance of disadvantage to small local third sector organisations. The importance of the balance between local and national commissioning and procurement was stressed, as was the need to ensure that this is not carried out in isolation from other relevant services. A few respondents suggested a need for further clarification of the proposed approach.

Question 30 - Access to mainstream non-justice services

5.45 Question 30 asked:

Do you think that placing a statutory duty on local partners and a strong Chief Executive negotiating on behalf of the new single service will help facilitate access to mainstream non-justice services?

5.46 Around two thirds of respondents addressed this question, and the majority of these respondents stated or implied a clear view. Of these, the majority expressed the view that placing a statutory duty on local partners and a strong Chief Executive would not help facilitate access to mainstream non-justice services. This was reflected in the pattern of comments, where more respondents highlighted concerns or perceived reasons why this would not be the case.

Positive aspects of helping facilitate access - statutory duty and Chief Executive

5.47 Some respondents made general comments to suggest that they agreed that these changes would help facilitate access to mainstream non-justice services, or stated that they would be an essential element of this option. One respondent stated that they would enable a focus on offenders' needs.

5.48 Among the specific comments, a common view was that the Chief Executive might have an impact at a national level, and may be able to link with national organisations. It was also suggested that this post would provide visible and accountable leadership, and could represent the work of CJSW.

5.49 Several respondents also suggested that a statutory duty may also have an impact as it could: enable a commitment to reducing reoffending; promote co-operation; increase partnership working; promote working with third sector organisations; and promote accountability and responsibility. A few respondents argued that this would be particularly important with Option C.

Concerns about helping facilitate access - statutory duty and Chief Executive

5.50 A few respondents indicated that they did not agree that these proposals would help facilitate access to mainstream non-justice services, or argued, for example, that: there is no evidence to support this; the impact may be insufficient; or that the proposals may weaken or hinder such access.

5.51 Most respondents, however, made specific comments about concerns, or expressed their views about why this would not help facilitate access. A common theme was the perceived lack of impact of the Chief Executive at a local level (e.g. difficulties negotiating with all local partners; limited capacity; and lack of impact on local relationships). It was also suggested that the impact of the Chief Executive would depend on the postholder, and one respondent argued that this placed a lot of responsibility on them, rather than holding all partners to account.

5.52 A further common theme was the perceived limitations of a statutory duty (e.g. that this does not necessarily promote commitment, priority, quality of work, provision or change; and may have a negative impact).

5.53 Issues were also raised relating to the local nature of many of the relevant non-justice services, including some third sector services, and the view that these are best influenced at a local level, and are reliant on local professional relationships and existing inter-agency arrangements. It was suggested that this may not take place with this proposal, particularly with small local authorities, and that the new agency would need to make its own links with local authorities and partners, which would take time.

5.54 Several respondents linked their view of these proposals to concerns with the option overall (e.g. costs and resources; barriers to access; information sharing difficulties; and damage to relationships), or a preference for another option. Additional concerns were raised relating to the overall nature and pattern of provision. For example, one respondent stated that, without management responsibility for criminal justice services, local authorities may not prioritise another agency's service users in the same way. Another suggested that the service would be relatively small, and its influence limited. It was also argued that the proposals could lead to differences in availability of provision and access, and that there would be a need for staff time to break down new barriers.

5.55 Several respondents argued that there would be other (perhaps better) ways of achieving this (e.g. existing arrangements; integration of health and social care; local multi-agency partnership working, networks and relationships; collective responsibility and shared understanding; and the choice of another option). Linked to this, some respondents argued that other factors impact on improving access to mainstream non-justice services.

Other comments

5.56 Among the other comments, some respondents expressed the view that services should not be separated into "justice" and "non-justice". A few made suggestions about the nature of the duty (e.g. to provide services; to work with third sector providers). Suggestions were also made about roles and responsibilities (e.g. a clear role for the Chief Executive; the same powers as a Chief Social Work Officer; enhanced legal responsibility of services under a duty to co-operate; and the involvement of all relevant sectors, including the judiciary and the third sector). Another suggested that a statutory duty on local partners and a strong Chief Executive negotiating on behalf of CJSW would not require a single service model.

Question 31 - Dedicated Community Justice Unit

5.57 Question 31 asked:

What do you think of the proposal to establish a dedicated community justice unit as part of the new service?

5.58 Just under two thirds of respondents addressed this question. The majority of comments identified potential benefits of this proposal.

Potential benefits - dedicated Community Justice Unit

5.59 The majority of comments about potential benefits of a dedicated Community Justice Unit were at a general level, where respondents expressed views that, for example: they supported the proposal with this option; considered it sensible, beneficial and positive; or considered it necessary if there were to be a national service. Some respondents expressed support for specific aspects of the proposal (e.g. the commitment to social work values; ambition to build expertise, capacity and resilience, and adopt a strategic approach to workforce development and leadership). A few respondents stated specifically that they did not support Option C, or stated that the formation of such a unit could take place with any of the three options, or combined with Option B.

5.60 Among positive comments, small numbers highlighted the benefits of: a national strategic approach (e.g. a national framework for workforce development; meaningful standards and guidelines; co-ordination; links to the Scottish Government; and priority and profile for community justice services). Some also highlighted staff training and skills (e.g. co-ordinated workforce development and performance measurement; consistency in standards; improved knowledge and links across social work; and professional identity). A few respondents stated that this might assist in developing local understanding of typical problems and solutions, or providing a dedicated one-stop service.

Potential concerns or issues - dedicated Community Justice Unit

5.61 Some concerns were also identified with this proposal (by small numbers in each case). Some of these related to a generally negative view or to concerns about the option overall; that a unit would not address these problems; or the view that structural change of this type was not required.

5.62 Some of the concerns related to the costs of establishment of such a unit. Some related to aspects of the overall nature of provision, including concerns that the unit may:

  • Increase bureaucracy.
  • Duplicate the responsibilities of other agencies.
  • Encourage "silo thinking".
  • Align the reducing reoffending agenda too closely with one agency.
  • Lead to a "non-social work approach".

5.63 One respondent expressed concerns about the potential implications for remote and rural areas.

Other comments

5.64 Among the other comments made, a few respondents suggested an alternative approach (e.g. links to skills and knowledge in the wider social work field; the adoption of another option; or the role being fulfilled by another organisation[s]). Suggestions were also made about perceived requirements for the unit, such as that it should:

  • Ensure strong links to organisations with responsibility for developing National Occupational Standards.
  • Develop guidance.
  • Promote research in reducing reoffending.
  • Identify clear lines of communication.
  • Ensure a focus on local needs.
  • Link to other services.
  • Avoid replication of existing provision.
  • Ensure accessibility to the third sector.

5.65 One respondent argued that the role and remit of the unit would need to be clear, and advised against "re-invention" of the previous Effective Practice Unit.

5.66 A few respondents identified specific issues for clarification (e.g. the Chief Social Work Officer role; the role of the RMA; and language and terminology). A few stated specifically that, if CJAs were to be abolished, functions such as training, groupwork and practitioner accreditation would have to be returned to the Government or allocated to another agency.

Summary of findings: Option C

5.67 In summary, the main findings relating to Option C were as follows:

  • A small number of respondents expressed an overall preference for this model.
  • Many respondents, however, whatever their preferred option overall, also identified positive aspects of Option C, particularly in terms of consistency, simplification of the structure and a national voice.
  • The most common concerns related to links and partnership working between CJSW and other relevant services, and the implications of this option for addressing local issues.
  • The majority of comments on the proposal to incorporate the functions of the RMA into a new single service identified positive aspects of this.
  • Views of the three Federation grouping with this option were mixed, although a larger number identified concerns than positive aspects.
  • Where there were clear views about whether the approach to strategic commissioning and procurement provided a good balance between local and national priorities and needs, the majority suggested that it did not, and this was reflected in the pattern of comments.
  • Where clear views were expressed about whether placing a statutory duty on local partners and a strong Chief Executive would help facilitate access to mainstream non-justice services, the majority suggested it would not. Again, this was reflected in the pattern of comments.
  • The majority of comments about the proposal to establish a dedicated community justice unit were positive and identified benefits of this.

Contact

Email: Carole Edwards