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 6: EQUALITY, BUSINESS AND THIRD SECTOR IMPACT AND OTHER ISSUES

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SECTION 6: EQUALITY, BUSINESS AND THIRD SECTOR IMPACT AND OTHER ISSUES

6.1 This section presents the findings relating to the perceived equality and business and third sector impact (Questions 8 and 9) and any other issues raised in the consultation (Question 32).

Question 8 - Equality impact

6.2 Question 8 asked:

What do you think are the equalities impact of the proposals presented in this paper, and the effect they may have on different sectors of the population?

6.3 Just under three quarters of respondents addressed this question. A few respondents expressed the general view that the overall impact of all of the options on equalities issues would be positive, a few stated that there would be little or no impact. One expressed overall equality-related concerns. Most, however, rather than providing an overall view made specific comments, and a number of common themes were identified. These included: the general equalities requirements of the proposals; the implications of each of the options or specific aspects of proposals; and the perceived impact on particular groups.

Equalities requirements

6.4 A large number of respondents identified overall equalities requirements of the proposals. Several, for example, identified that the existing equality duties and compliance with the Equality Act 2010 would remain the responsibility of the public bodies involved. Two also stated generally that the consultation appeared to take account of equality legislation. Several respondents commented on the need for an equality impact assessment before the implementation of any option. Other general provisions suggested were: a national guidance framework to promote the equality agenda for offenders; equalities monitoring; and training.

Implications of particular options or aspects of the proposals

6.5 A further common theme was the identification of the impact of particular options or aspects of the proposals. Most of these comments focused on options B and / or C. A small number of respondents commented on Option A. A very small number identified, for example, the positive role CJAs have played in facilitating improved access to services, or suggested that the proposed option could identify local needs. Concerns were expressed about the separation of CJAs from local services, its sector-specific focus; and limited responsiveness to local variations. It was also suggested that, if this option was chosen, there must be: a gender balance on the Board; provision of services to address the needs of women offenders; and clear local links.

6.6 Comments on the equality impact of Option B were largely positive, with benefits of this model in terms of equality seen to include:

  • Local knowledge of diversity issues and local needs.
  • Taking a "whole systems" approach.
  • Local authorities' "track record" in addressing equalities issues.
  • Partnership working (including through the CPP).
  • Enabling access to other relevant services.
  • Responsiveness of services to local demand (including in rural areas).

6.7 Although few concerns were expressed, those highlighted related to: the potential impact of the current financial climate, particularly on women in the workforce and on services to offenders; the danger of a "postcode lottery" of provision; and the lack of a "critical mass" of some groups to ensure appropriate provision. It was also suggested that, if this option was chosen, the Leadership Group must have a gender balance.

6.8 Comments on the equality impact of Option C largely related to areas of concern, but a small number of respondents identified benefits. These included:

  • More cost-effective impact assessment of policy.
  • An opportunity to address inequality in provision.
  • Enhanced rights of offenders.

6.9 Potential concerns or issues raised included:

  • Limited capacity of the Chief Executive and Federation Directors to ensure equality of access.
  • Barriers to access to local services.
  • Lack of responsiveness to variation in needs.
  • Barriers to provision in remote and rural areas.
  • A sector-specific focus.
  • Risks to the wider community.

6.10 Some respondents stated specifically that, with this model, assurance would be needed that the needs of those living in the most deprived areas, rural communities, and the most vulnerable people would be recognised and acted upon. It was also stated that local links would be needed, and that the Board should take all necessary steps to encourage women to be involved.

6.11 In terms of the impact of particular aspects of the proposals rather than specific options, one respondent suggested that basing provision on social work values and principles would contribute to ensuring equality. It was also suggested that the separation of CJSW services from other social work services may increase barriers for some service users, reduce provision and increase stigma. Several respondents made specific comments about the perceived benefits in terms of a range of aspects of equality for services to be provided at a local level, with local information sharing and the opportunity for input from small local agencies. A few suggested that a move to larger organisations would have a negative impact on equalities issues, and a few that an enhanced Community Justice Unit could help enable appropriate access to provision. One respondent argued that relying on positive relationships, rather than a statutory duty, might not be the best means of addressing the complex issues faced by women offenders.

Impact on particular groups

6.12 A number of groups were identified for which the proposals may have implications. Some respondents, for example, noted the impact on offenders, as a group who experience discrimination and disadvantage. The need was stressed, whichever option was adopted, to make appropriate arrangements for victims, offenders and their families, and to enable equal access to the services they require.

6.13 It was also suggested that all of the proposals may have gender implications, and the importance of considering these issues and ensuring appropriate provision for women (including, for example, women offenders and women experiencing domestic abuse) was identified.

6.14 Some implications of the proposals for young people were also identified and a concern was raised about the potential detrimental effect of changes upon them. It was suggested that the way young people would "fit" into the proposals was not addressed in the consultation document (although one respondent stated elsewhere that the links to youth justice are clearer in a social work model). The importance of considering their needs (to include, for example, looked after and accommodated young people and those experiencing domestic abuse), and ensuring appropriate services was also identified.

6.15 A further group identified upon whom there may be a specific impact was people in remote and rural areas. The main concerns related to a move to a national service or the centralisation of services and structures, and the potential to marginalise these areas. It was also suggested that there may be particular implications for ethnic minority communities (e.g. in terms of their uneven distribution across Scotland); people with mental health problems; people with addiction issues; and vulnerable adults.

Other comments

6.16 Among the other comments made, some respondents stressed the importance of equalities issues and welcomed the focus on this. Others expressed support for particular developments in criminal justice work. Some identified current problems and gaps in equalities work or that the current system is structured to the needs of male offenders. One stressed the importance of the use of appropriate language in promoting desistance.

6.17 Some respondents highlighted the need to meet the needs of all equalities groups, as well as to ensure equality of access to services and to promote user involvement. It was also suggested that there is a need to be able to address national priorities and meet local needs. One respondent stated that it would have been helpful if the paper had presented equality impact assessments for each option. Another stated that the proposals would benefit from wider discussion in terms of equalities issues.

Question 9 - Business and third sector impact

6.18 Question 9 asked:

What are your views regarding the impact that the proposals presented in this paper may have on the important contribution to be made by businesses and the third sector?

6.19 Around 80% of respondents addressed this question. Several respondents argued that the options would have a general positive impact on the contribution by businesses and the third sector, while a slightly smaller number expressed overall concerns. One respondent argued that there would be no significant impact, and a few respondents stated that the impact of the proposals was not clear from the information presented. Most respondents, however, rather than providing an overall view, made more specific comments on aspects of the impact of the proposals on businesses and the third sector.

The role of businesses and the third sector and the general impact

6.20 A large number of respondents made comments on the role of businesses and the third sector in community justice, and the perceived general impact of the proposals. Some general comments were made suggesting that the organisational arrangements may have some effect on the contribution made, or that the proposals offer potential for greater co-ordination, development and involvement by both sectors. A few respondents suggested that the role of the third sector would be strong, whatever the option selected, and another that the sector may be able to demonstrate greater flexibility.

6.21 Some respondents, however, expressed some overall concerns, including a few who stated that the proposals might have a negative impact on the third sector. A concern was also expressed about the limited recognition of the role of the third sector in all of the options, along with a view that all three should be more specific about the involvement of both sectors. A few respondents expressed concerns about the involvement of businesses in community justice (in terms, for example, of their profit-making focus; or the belief that public services should be provided by directly employed public service workers rather than the private sector) and / or stated that a persuasive case for engagement with the sector had not been made.

6.22 A range of comments were made on the perceived roles of these sectors in terms of the provision of their services. Several commented on the involvement of businesses and their role in the overall picture or gave particular examples. Aspects of their contribution highlighted included: delivery of some aspects of services (e.g. work experience; apprenticeships; employability work; and training for ex-offenders); and working in partnership with other local services. A large number of respondents made comments on the role and contribution of the third sector, or provided examples. Some stressed the importance of the contribution, while others identified specific aspects of their involvement, such as: innovation; projects and placements; employment and learning opportunities; supporting core and other essential services; delivering specific forms of work; and working in partnership.

Implications of particular options or aspects of the proposals

6.23 Comments on the impact of particular options focused largely on options B and C. Few comments were made on Option A, but these included: a perceived positive impact of CJAs on involvement of these sectors; the opportunity to take a national approach with providers and commission services to meet local needs; and to develop existing links. Concerns were expressed about a perceived lack of clarity in accountability and commissioning; a lack of evidence about how the option would bring about a strategic approach; lack of responsiveness to local issues; and potential to marginalise business and third sector partners. It was suggested that this option would require the establishment of firm local links.

6.24 Most of the comments on Option B focused on the positive impact of this option, with a very small number of comments on concerns. Potential benefits were seen to include:

  • The option to build on and strengthen existing relationships and partnership working.
  • The ability to commission services to meet local needs (and opportunities for co-commissioning).
  • Greater involvement of smaller, local third sector organisations.

6.25 Concerns included:

  • Potential limitations to the volume of third sector services purchased.
  • Reduced access to resources.
  • Reduced capability for third sector engagement at a national level.
  • An increased administrative burden.

6.26 Most of the comments on Option C focused on concerns about the impact of this option. A few respondents identified potential benefits, which included:

  • A more structured approach to involvement.
  • A Scotland-wide approach.
  • Easier negotiation of national contracts.
  • Cost benefits.
  • An improved profile for community justice work.

6.27 Concerns related to:

  • A potential to marginalise business and third sector partners.
  • Potential limitations to the amount of third sector services purchased.
  • Lack of responsiveness to local issues (particularly in rural areas).
  • A threat to small third sector organisations and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
  • Difficulties in competing.
  • Stifled development.
  • Reduced access to local services (e.g. employability).
  • Higher costs.
  • Disruption to contributions.
  • A lack of evidence about how the option would bring about a strategic approach.

6.28 A few respondents suggested that the option would require a balance between central and local planning, local links, and consideration of third sector funding.

6.29 In terms of specific aspects of the proposals, comments were made about the potential negative impact of the removal of CJSW from local authority management; the need for allocation of contracts and provision based on local need; the need for inclusion of small, local interventions; and the need for local connections. It was also suggested that funding conditions should not prohibit bids from small third sector partners. It was also noted that the roles and level of current involvement of the business and third sector differ, and the consequent impact of the proposals may also differ.

Requirements or suggestions and other comments

6.30 The strengthening of third sector involvement in planning, management and delivery of services was highlighted frequently. Some specific suggestions included:

  • Robust commissioning and clear expectations.
  • Development of projects and placements.
  • Provision of appropriate resources and clarity of funding.
  • Recognition of third sector organisations as equal partners.
  • Increased involvement in local partnerships.

6.31 Several respondents also made comments on developing work with the private sector, and specific suggestions included: improved communication and information sharing; involvement in partnerships; development of employment opportunities; and detailed regulation of engagement.

6.32 A few respondents suggested that there should be a duty on the statutory sector to engage with the third sector and / or businesses. The perceived importance of strategic direction, leadership and monitoring were also highlighted, and one respondent suggested that the principles of the Change Fund should be built upon. Two respondents also argued that the chosen option should take account of the workforce implications in both sectors.

Question 32 - Other issues raised in the consultation

6.33 Question 32 asked for any additional comments. Just over half of the respondents provided comments at this question while, in addition, a large number made additional comments in letters or other supporting material. While there was some overlap with respondents who addressed the question directly, over 80% of respondents in total made additional comments outwith the questions.

6.34 There were a number of overall themes identified on which a large number of respondents made additional comments. These were: the consultation; the current situation and examples of existing work; the specific options; issues affecting specific groups; and the key characteristics and requirements of a community justice system. A few respondents made comments on specific aspects of the way forward. Additional comments on the particular options have been considered at the relevant questions.

The consultation

6.35 Many respondents made additional comments on the consultation process, their organisation or their response. These included, for example, comments on: the basis of the response (e.g. who was represented; how it was generated); the roles and responsibilities of the respondent including, for example, the nature of an organisation; or a respondent's involvement and expertise in community justice; and the nature and coverage of the response (e.g. focus and issue covered; limitations and issues not covered; links to another response).

6.36 Several respondents welcomed the opportunity to comment and contribute to the consultation, or welcomed a specific aspect of the consultation (e.g. the Government's commitment to engagement; consideration of the issues; use of the term "community justice system"; focus on victims, people who offend, families and local communities; endorsement of core values and principles of social work and the wider community justice field; the move towards consistency; and key characteristic "m" [a strategic approach to workforce development and leadership]). One respondent stressed the overall importance of the consultation, another the uncertainty and potential disruption of the process and outcome, and another the potential cost.

6.37 Several respondents commented on the overall nature or focus of the consultation. This included, for example, views that: or structural change alone would not deliver the key characteristics, or other outcomes sought. A few stated that they did not consider it helpful to try to differentiate the options in this way, or questioned the perceived focus of the consultation on the structure as the means of improvement. One respondent also argued that there is a "managerial ethos" to the proposals and insufficient focus on personal and professional virtues.

6.38 Several respondents highlighted other important factors in achieving outcomes (including, for example: leadership; overall purpose; common vision, values and priorities; accountability; governance; a transparent financial framework; delivery arrangements; ownership and culture; and the actions of those involved). A very small number suggested that the questions were designed to elicit a particular response, or implied a decision had been made.

6.39 Comments were also made on specific perceived gaps or areas with insufficient coverage in the document. Those highlighted included links to broader issues and the wider agenda and developments, such as: the principles of public sector reform; the cost of reoffending; the wider reoffending agenda; key policy frameworks; early intervention and prevention; recent trends; PSPs; changes to courts and the police; and other reforms and policy developments.

6.40 Gaps or insufficient coverage were also identified in relation to: issues for victims; implications for staff; and electronic monitoring as an aspect of redesigning community justice.

6.41 It was also suggested that the focus of the consultation did not reflect the complexity of change needed across a range of agencies and services, and that there was a lack of costing of the options, and a need for further clarity of the options, or specific aspects of these. It was also suggested that there should be a clear definition of "community justice".

Current situation and examples of existing work

6.42 A further common theme was the current situation relating to community justice. This included comments on the nature of the current system, or the history of community justice developments. Some respondents commented on the perceived need, or scope, for reform or improvement. A few identified the current climate of change and the opportunity to address issues.

6.43 A few respondents also stressed, however, that it is important that positive aspects of current arrangements should not be lost, or that strengths should be built upon. Similarly, a few respondents made additional comments questioning the overall need for structural change.

6.44 Several respondents provided particular examples of current or recent work, including: the work of CJAs; CPPs and the third sector. Further examples included other developments in partnership working and workforce development. Examples were also given of: the development of standards, principles and indicators; developments in evaluation; youth justice; family support; and other work.

Comments on specific issues

6.45 Several respondents also made comments on specific issues. These included issues affecting particular groups, with some focusing on staff. Comments were made, for example, on: training and qualifications and the implications of separation of qualification and training; the importance of core social work values; issues relating to staffing any new arrangements; and the perceived implications of moving from local authority control.

6.46 Issues for offenders were also raised (e.g. health inequalities; the needs of women offenders; the needs of offenders with speech, language and communication needs; issues for victims of crime; and issues in youth justice).

6.47 Comments were also made in relation to issues for particular types of organisation, or their specific roles in community justice work, including, for example: third sector services; the role of occupational therapy; and the role of the RMA. A few respondents also stressed the importance of taking account of specific issues, such as: wider public health priorities; and how to deal with the statutory functions of the CJAs as set out in the Management of Offenders etc. (Scotland) Act 2005.

Key characteristics and requirements of a community justice system

6.48 Many respondents expressed additional views about key characteristics or perceived requirements of a community justice system. These suggestions can be grouped into the following broad areas: the basis and nature of service provision; the overall means of provision and supporting infrastructure; oversight and support; and specific types of community justice work.

6.49 In terms of the overall nature of the system and supporting infrastructure, comments included the perceived need for:

  • A strategic approach.
  • Appropriate governance and structure.
  • A clear framework for accountability.
  • A transparent financial framework.
  • Appropriate resources and commissioning arrangements.
  • An evidence base.
  • Partnership working and collaboration.
  • Links between different services and partnerships.
  • Opportunities for cross-boundary working where appropriate.
  • Clear delivery arrangements and roles.
  • Involvement of a range of stakeholders.
  • Workforce development and planning.
  • Appropriate IT systems.
  • Building on existing strengths.

6.50 In terms of the basis and nature of service provision, comments included the perceived need for:

  • Local provision and responsiveness to local needs.
  • Social work values and principles, and a professional identity.
  • An holistic, person-centred approach.
  • An outcome focus.
  • A focus on early intervention and prevention.
  • A whole system approach.
  • An integrated approach.
  • An asset based approach and co-production.
  • User, staff, family, victim and the wider community involvement.
  • Flexibility, and innovation.
  • Consistency.
  • Ownership of the agenda.
  • Building on existing strengths and "what works".

6.51 In terms of oversight and support, comments included the perceived need for:

  • A national framework.
  • Guidance.
  • An overall purpose; clear aims; agreed priorities; common vision; and shared values.
  • Leadership (national and local), oversight and direction.
  • Co-ordination, and effective performance management.
  • External scrutiny, regulation and inspection.
  • Quality assurance, monitoring, evaluation and assessment.
  • A focus on continuous improvement.

6.52 In terms of specific types of community justice work, comments included the perceived need for:

  • A shared commitment to community based sentencing.
  • Reducing reoffending by those already in the system.
  • Support to, and protection of victims.
  • Restorative justice.
  • Continued development of assessment and risk management.
  • Support to offenders and specific groups of offenders.
  • Review of disclosure, particularly for young people.
  • A strategic approach to SLCN and an inclusive communication standard.
  • Electronic monitoring.
  • Harmonisation of IT.
  • Promotion of criminal justice practice through award schemes.

6.53 A few respondents expressed their specific agreement with the key characteristics set out within the consultation document, or in other documents (e.g. a local authority's own plan; CoSLA and SOLACE principles of reform; the "four pillars" of the Christie Commission).

Specific aspects of the way forward

6.54 Some comments were also made on particular aspects of the way forward. These included suggestions that: consideration should be given to continuity planning; CJSW services must be supported to continue to deliver services; the final model should be "future proofed"; and the changes should be introduced as quickly as possible although it was also suggested that the system should be allowed time to evolve, and that this will be a long term process. A few respondents also stressed the need for developments to be linked to the wider agenda. A small number of respondents suggested ways in which they or their organisation could have a role in the development and delivery of new arrangements.

Summary: Equality impact, business and third sector impact and other issues raised

6.55 In summary, the main findings relating to the equality impact, business and third sector impact and other issues raised in the consultation are as follows:

  • Comments on the equality impact of the proposals focused on: general equalities requirements of the proposals; the implications (positive and negative) of each of the options or specific aspects of proposals; and the perceived impact on particular groups.
  • The main themes in relation to the impact on businesses and the third sector included comments on: the role of businesses and the third sector in community justice and the general impact; the implications (positive and negative) of each of the options or specific aspects of the proposals; and perceived requirements and suggestions relating to businesses and the third sector.
  • Many respondents made additional comments outwith the questions. The most common themes were: the consultation; the current situation and examples of existing work; the specific options; issues affecting specific groups; and the key characteristics / requirements of a community justice system. A few respondents made comments on specific aspects of the way forward.

Contact

Email: Carole Edwards