Vision for Justice in Scotland: three year delivery plan

Provides a high-level overview of the main areas of work that are being undertaken across the justice sector, and further significant reforms that will be introduced over the period 2023 to 2026.

1. Vision for Justice | Delivery Plan

1.1 Introduction

The Vision for Justice was published in 2022 and set out the Government’s transformative vision for the justice sector for this parliamentary term and beyond. Our Vision for Justice remains to deliver a just, safe resilient Scotland. This will see us living in safer, more tolerant and inclusive communities, free from inequality and hate.

The Vision for Justice was accompanied by a Year One Delivery Plan setting out the existing commitments, at that time, from our justice agencies. The purpose of this Three Year Delivery Plan is to build on that initial plan, providing a high level overview of work being undertaken across the justice sector over the subsequent three years up to March 2026.

The Vision and initial delivery plan were endorsed by the Justice Board which represents many of the key national justice organisations. The Board includes representation from Community Justice Scotland, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, Police Scotland, Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration, Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Scottish Legal Aid Board, Scottish Government and Scottish Prison Service.

This delivery plan demonstrates the collaborative approach within the justice sector and in meeting the aims in the Vision, Scottish Government and all the organisations represented at Justice Board agree that they share collective ownership of this delivery plan.

1.2 The Vision for Justice

The Vision covers five aims and sets national outcomes within each. The five aims span the full journey of criminal, civil and administrative justice, with a focus on creating safer communities and shifting societal attitudes and circumstances which perpetuate crime and harm.

The vision is also underpinned by four principles for how change is delivered. Founded in equality and human rights, evidence-based, embedding person-centred and trauma informed practices and through collaboration and partnership.

Equality and Human Rights Person-Centred and Trauma-Informed Evidence-Based Collaboration and Partnership

A Just, Safe & Resilient Scotland


We have a society in which people feel, and are, safer in their communities


We support rehabilitation, use custody only where there is no alternative and work to reduce reoffending and revictimisation

Person-Centred and Traum-Informed

We have effective, modern and person-centred approaches to justice in which everyone can have trust, including as victims, those accused of crimes, and as individuals in civil disputes

Prevention and Early Intervention

We work together to address the underlying causes of crime and support everyone to live full and healthy lives

COVID-19 Recovery

We address the on-going impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to renew and transform justice

1.3 Context

In April 2023 the Government set out their priorities under Equality, opportunity, community: New Leadership – A Fresh Start where the Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Home Affairs reaffirmed the commitment to the Vision for Justice and set out 11 outcomes. These outcomes are aligned to the aims set out in the Vision for Justice.

Subsequently, in September 2023 the Government published the Programme for Government for the year and associated ‘mandate letters’. These letters set out a new approach of how we deliver as a government, agreeing the commitments to be undertaken in the months ahead between the First Minister and each Cabinet Secretary. This will be an annual process with mandate letters issued each year setting out the main commitments for each Cabinet Secretary for the forthcoming year.

This Delivery Plan seeks to provide a high-level overview of the main areas of work that are being undertaken across the justice sector to help meet the Aims of the Vision over the period 2023-2026. The plan has been prepared in consultation with our justice partners and its contents reflect the pressures that delivery partners are under.

These pressures include the current challenging public financial position as set out in the government’s Medium Term Financial Strategy. Obviously, the further we look into the future the more uncertain the picture becomes. As a result, some of the projects within this plan are necessarily subject to the outcome of the budget processes in this and future years.

1.4 Measurement Framework

Published alongside this plan is the measurement framework for the Vision for Justice. This Framework sets out how we will measure progress against the outcomes in the vision and the data used to monitor this progress. This will be integral to our planning over future years to identify those areas where the work we are doing is having a positive effect and assisting in identifying areas where more or new work needs to be considered.

1.5 Stakeholder Engagement

The Vision for Justice was developed with our major stakeholders and is overseen by the Justice Board which has representation from major national justice partners. In addition, engaging with stakeholders at a policy level is undertaken by each of the teams.

Our aims will only be achieved by working with those involved with and engaged in the justice sector. There are a number of key partners within the sector with differing relationships to and with government – this includes statutory requirements safeguarding the constitutional independence of key parts of the justice system.

As part of the process of developing the Plan and the ongoing monitoring work that will be undertaken, we will continue to engage with key stakeholder groups, including victims’ groups. This will focus on the principles underpinning how change is delivered (i.e. equality and human rights, evidence-based, embedding person-centred and trauma informed practices) provide a platform for feedback from different perspectives, including via lived experience, and play a role in helping to prioritise our work in future years.

1.6 Equalities

Justice plays a fundamental role in the government achieving the three missions set out in this prospectus:

Equality: Tackling poverty and protecting people from harm.

Opportunity: Building a fair, green and growing economy.

Community: Delivering efficient and effective public services.

Genuine equality and opportunity are dependent on ensuring we live in a just, safe, and resilient Scotland where everyone can reach their potential and contribute fully to society.

As such the portfolio remains committed to advancing equality and works to address causes of inequality. Underpinning the approach to implementing the Vision for Justice is our principle that the work must be founded in equality and human rights. This means that Justice services must eliminate discrimination, advance equality and foster good relationships while taking a rights-based approach and ensuring that those most vulnerable and facing the greatest barriers are able to understand and realise their rights. Equality Impact Assessments, where appropriate, are used to ensure policies and actions take account of the different needs and experiences of the people that rely on our justice system.

The aims of the Vision were developed as evidence suggests that women are less likely to feel safe and are disproportionately affected by both sexual crimes and domestic abuse. In addition, disabled people are more likely to be a victim of crime and experience discrimination and harassment. Lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender adults and minority ethnic people are also more likely to experience discrimination.

Our focus on areas like Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) is a direct response to the inequalities that have persisted throughout the system and links with the joint Scottish Government and COSLA Equally Safe Strategy, which is due to be refreshed. Our reforms will improve the experience of women seeking justice for these crimes which can be a long and traumatising process. Our portfolio priorities on community safety and reducing reoffending are expected to significantly benefit people with protected characteristics.

1.7 Public Sector Reform

This plan also includes actions taken to achieve the mission on Community: delivering efficient and effective public services. The justice sector in Scotland has a strong history of delivering far reaching cross sectoral reform, most noticeably the reforms to Police and Fire as a result of the Police and Fire Reform Act (Scotland) 2021, but also courts and tribunals reform, innovative trauma-informed Community Custody Units, etc.

There are extensive examples of reform and innovation within the justice sector and reflected in the delivery plan, including:

Blue Light Collaboration: Following the 2023-24 budget discussions blue light partners have been asked to drive further collaboration to achieve operational efficiencies and improve outcomes for Scottish communities.

Technology/Digital: Several justice bodies have significant digital transformation programmes, including body worn cameras for Police Scotland officers and staff; the implementation of a Digital Evidence Sharing Capability; and in-cell technology in prisons.

1.8 Transformational Change Programmes

Partnership and collaboration are key to help achieve the aims of the Vision for Justice. We have a long, successful history of working in collaboration with our partners across the justice system to deliver on our aims.

The justice sector’s approach to delivering the medium to longer term Vision for Justice has evolved in line with this collaborative approach and is being implemented through three Justice Transformational Change Programmes.

The Criminal Justice Board, which has representation from across the justice sector, is responsible for providing oversight of the Justice Transformational Change Programmes (TCPs) by acting as the Sponsoring Group for the Programmes, which includes setting the priorities and alignment with the Vision for Justice.

These TCPs reflect the priorities of Ministers and the wider sector as a subset of work which aims to deliver some of the outcomes set out in the Vision for Justice. The Scottish Government and the justice sector are focusing on key delivery priorities that require cross sectoral collaboration in order to deliver real change to benefit victims, witnesses and all users of the justice system.

1.8.1 TCP 1 Person-Centred Trauma-Informed

TCP 1 Person-Centred Trauma-Informed

Our justice services will be person-centred, and trauma informed. Person-centred justice services will ensure that a person’s needs and values are respected. There will be timely, clear communication ensuring people understand areas of complexity. Individuals and their families will be involved in decisions which affect them, with a recognition that people are the experts in their own lives. This means that within the parameters of legal frameworks and justice processes, people will be treated as individuals rather than part of a process. People will be treated with empathy and kindness, and provided with the support they need to thrive.


1. Implementation of the Trauma Informed Justice Knowledge and Skills Framework

2. Improving communications for victims and survivors

3. Expansion in use of Victim Statements

4. Extending use of Restorative Justice

5. Expansion of use of Pre-Recorded Evidence

  • Victims feel like they have been treated with compassion
  • Victims’ voices are heard
  • Victims feel informed about their case and know what their rights are
  • Victims feel safe
  • Victims are given choices

1.8.2 TCP 2 Shifting the Balance Between Custody and Community

TCP 2 Shifting the Balance Between Custody and Community

Over the next 5 years (2023-2028), we will work collaboratively to shift the balance between the use of custody and justice in the community, encouraging more widespread use of community interventions and reducing the use of imprisonment. This will include working together to make best use of available resources and to pursue a range of actions to enhance service delivery, increase public and judicial understanding and confidence, and ensure cross-sector connections to non-justice services including public health, employability, and housing.

This recognises that imprisonment is inherently damaging to the connections which prevent people from offending, such as relationships, accommodation, and employment, as well as to the families of those in custody. By contrast, the evidence shows that community interventions can be more effective in assisting with rehabilitation and reducing reoffending than short-term custodial sentences, while protecting the public and robustly managing risk.

Our work will contribute to longstanding aims to support rehabilitation, reduce reoffending, and protect the public – including the victims of crime. This will make Scotland a safer place for all.


Projects To Be Agreed

  • Shift the balance between custody and community
  • Reduce reoffending

1.8.3 TCP 3 Criminal Justice System Efficiency

TCP 3 Criminal Justice System Efficiency

Our criminal justice system will work better for everyone who experiences it. Cases will take less time. More cases will conclude early, and fewer witnesses will have to come to court. Everyone will be better informed about what’s happening throughout. Increased use of digital technology will help the system to recover from the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and be efficient and effective.


1. System Health Check

2. National Witness Gateway

3. Digital Evidence Sharing Capability (DESC)

4. Remote Provision of Evidence

5. Summary Case Management Pilot

6. Trauma Informed Domestic Abuse Model

7. Reduce Journey Times (Court Recovery Programme)

8. Body Worn Video

  • Reduce delays: cases progress through the system to appropriate conclusion as quickly as possible
  • Increased effectiveness: everyone involved in the justice sector has an improved experience and staff time is used on value added tasks
  • Increased availability of data and information: data and information is easily accessible when needed
  • Increased use of digital: more justice services and processes are delivered digitally



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