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Justice Committee looks at community justice arrangements 16/11/2015 The Stage 1 report on the Community Justice (Scotland) Bill, which aims to create a new community justice model for Scotland, has been published.

Justice Committee looks at community justice arrangements

The Stage 1 report on the Community Justice (Scotland) Bill, which aims to create a new community justice model for Scotland, has been published.

The Bill, which was introduced into the Scottish Parliament in May, will:

  • Place responsibility for local planning and monitoring of community justice services with a defined set of local community justice partners;
  • Place duties on these community justice partners to engage in local strategic planning and be accountable for its success;
  • Develop a national strategy and a performance framework in relation to community justice;
  • Create a national body to provide leadership, promote innovation and provide improvement support where it is required;
  • Create a focus on collaboration – including the opportunity to commission, manage or deliver services nationally where appropriate.

It will completely revamp the existing system, which has only been in place since 2007.

According to the Scottish Parliaments Justice Committee, the reform does appear to be necessary. However, it makes a number of recommendations aimed, in particular, at strengthening strategic leadership and simplifying the community justice landscape.

Both issues were identified as particular weaknesses of the current community justice arrangements by Dame Elish Angiolini’s Commission on Women Offenders and by Audit Scotland in their 2012 reports.

“Having taken evidence from key individuals and stakeholders, the Committee accepts that improvements to community justice structures and arrangements are required,” said Committee Convener Christine Grahame MSP. “While the evidence we received did not show any great enthusiasm for the exact model in the Bill, there was an acceptance that it would be difficult to achieve one that all bodies involved in community justice would be wholly satisfied with.”

“We had particular concerns that the detailed proposals in the Bill may not achieve the correct balance between strong national leadership, improvements in performance, and local flexibility in relation to the delivery of services,” she explained. “We have therefore recommended that the oversight functions of the national body are strengthened to provide the robust leadership and accountability which is missing from current arrangements. We have also urged the Government to clarify the duties of the national and local bodies and the balance of responsibilities between the two, and on how the model is expected to work in practice, to clear up ambiguity over the new arrangements.”

The Stage 1 report can be found here.


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