The Scottish Government is to introduce a new model to improve the way that community justice services are delivered in Scotland.
The changes are intended to make the best use of the £100 million allocated by The Scottish Government each year to deliver community sentences, support the rehabilitation of offenders, and reduce reoffending.
Details of the model are outlined in the Government’s response to a consultation published today. The response marks the final milestone before the changes are introduced as part of the Community Justice Bill, with implementation expected in 2016/17.
The key changes under the new model are:
Transferring responsibility for the planning and delivery of community justice services from Scotland’s eight Community Justice Authorities (CJAs) to the 32 Community Planning Partnerships (CPPs). This will ensure criminal justice social workers maintain their links with colleagues in local authorities, while developing stronger links with partners in areas like health, housing and welfare to improve how they work together to tackle re-offending.
The Scottish Government will develop a national strategy for community justice and reducing reoffending. This will set the national strategic direction for CPPs to plan and deliver services as well as providing the framework against which progress can be assessed and improvement driven.
A new national body will be created to provide leadership and strategic direction for community justice in Scotland as well as providing independent assurance to Ministers on the successes of community justice partners in tackling re-offending. This will give community justice the leadership it needs to continue the progress towards tackling crime and making communities safer.
The national body will also have the ability to commission services nationally if required. This will enable partners to maximise their resources and make the best possible use of public money.
Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: “Recorded crime is at its lowest level for 40 years and reconviction rates are also decreasing, which is testament to the work of Scotland’s Community Justice Authorities in reducing re-offending in our communities.
“Nonetheless, if we are to make further progress in this area it is clear that we need to introduce changes, and that is why we have been working closely with key partners and stakeholders to develop this new model for community justice.
“The new model will create a stronger community justice system that will improve collaboration between professionals at a local level to better support offenders and address the root causes of their offending, with leadership from a new national body driving progress.
“This will result in better outcomes for people and communities, and we will continue to draw on the expertise of key stakeholders as we move towards the new arrangements.”
Cllr Harry McGuigan, COSLA spokesperson for Community Wellbeing, said: “Crime is particularly felt in our poorer communities and we welcome the shift outlined in this document to a more community-focused approach to improving community justice. Councils already work to address the causes of offending and to reduce reoffending. It is vital that Scottish Ministers, their agencies and all relevant partners work together to achieve this.
“It is really important that local housing, health, employment, education, courts and police plan and deliver their services in a strategic way. This is fundamental if we are to achieve the continuing downward trend in offending.”