Throughout this posting, important pointers for those involved at a local level in delivery of the Community Justice Agenda, including Social Enterprises, Development Trusts and Local Community Organisations, are highlighted in this colour. All these will have increasing roles to play in the Scottish Government’s proposals for Criminal Justice reform.

A Day to Remember

Huckfield believes that last Wednesday 07 November was one of those days to be remembered. And it happened in Barlinnie Jail.

No Offence: the Criminal Justice Community Network should be publicly congratulated on its success in bringing together a widely drawn cast list of those across Scotland and beyond interested in Criminal Justice Reform.

Everyone was saying the same. No one spoke up for the English Criminal Justice Reform Agenda based on external commissioning from Serco and G4S of HM Prisons and the Probation Service, payment by results and even Social Impact Bonds.

These following notes summarise contributions from the main speakers at Barlinnie:

Derek McGill, Barlinnie’s Governor, welcomed those attending, gently reminding us that we would observe that this was a working prison.

Huckfield and those attending were struck by the supportive attitude of Prison Officers who let us in and made sure we could get out – not an easy task for a conference of more than 80 inside a secure unit.

In Barlinnie, they even stir your tea for you!

Miranda Alcock, Justice Portfolio Manager, Audit Scotland introduced Audit Scotland’s new Report Reducing Reoffending in Scotland which shows that though £419mn was spent by the Scottish Prison Service, Community Justice Authorities and Scottish Government in 2010/2011 on dealing with convicted offenders, only £128mn was spent on reducing reoffending. Miranda’s Presentation at Barlinnie showed the mismatch of 430 Skills, Learning and Employability programmes to prevent reoffending, compared with only 80 on housing and accommodation and a mere 5 on money and debt management.

She said that Community Justice Authorities (CJAs) represented an extremely complex landscape, without clear accountability for reducing reoffending. “CJAs and local councils should improve their understanding of the unit costs of different criminal justice social work activities”.

Colin McConnell, the new Chief Executive of Scottish Prison Service sounded very much the proverbial new broom. He had set in motion a major restructuring which he hoped would make SPS more responsive to the changing Criminal Justice Agenda.

He said “If you have any ideas, please bring them to us”. During tea breaks (again, with tea stirred for you!) many said they welcomed hearing that said from SPS.

Joe Griffin, Deputy Director, Scottish Government Criminal Justice Division, spoke about the need to move resources into reducing reoffending. Joe’s Presentation at Barlinnie reminded us of the background and context:

These Reports, together with others mentioned below in Delivery of a Reform Agenda, have effectively set the Agenda for Criminal Justice Reform in Scotland.

Christine Scullion from Robertson Trust, which manages the Scottish Government’s “Reducing Reoffending Change” Fund, spoke of the need to link local authorities and others in the public sector to more permanent funding changes for reform of the system. Christine’s Presentation emphasised the Robertson Trust’s guiding themes:

  • We look at hard issues where no-one else has gone and identify gaps in service provision where our resources can have the greatest impact

  • Take a partnership approach and work with other funders over a long period of time

  • Seek engagement with statutory partners to ensure longer term uptake

The Robertson Trust’s management of the Scottish Government’s Reducing Reoffending Change Fund demonstrates a prime example of the Scottish Government’s Public Social Partnerships Policy. Under the Public Social Partnership (PSP) approach, public and Third Sector Organisations join together in the co-production and design of services, enabling Third Sector Organistions to take advantage of new market opportunities.

All this operates in stark contrast to the UK Department of Work and Pensions’ Work Programme model, under which service delivery is commissioned from private sector providers funded through payment by results.

Fergus Neil from the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research ended the day with his Presentation on Rehabilitation and Reintegration, Rehabilitation was “the action of restoring something to a previous (proper) condition or status”.

Various other presentations during working groups included:

All these projects demonstrate that continuing investment in community-based Third Sector delivery can be more effective than more expensive short term prison sentences.

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Delivery of a Reform Agenda

Under the Management of Offenders etc (Scotland) Act 2005, the Scottish Government set up eight Community Justice Authorities (CJAs) across Scotland under a National Advisory Board, chaired by the Justice Secretary. Their task is to work with the Scottish Prison Service, local authorities, NHS Boards and other local partners to distribute funding for criminal justice social work in local areas for management of offenders and to reduce reoffending rates.

CJAs have only been operational since 2007 and face a difficult task. Though they show some good practice examples, their performance varies and in reports below some issues have been raised about their effectiveness in reducing reoffending:

  • The Scottish Prisons Commission Report, July 2008: “Scotland’s Choice”: Under “Community Justice and Criminal Justice Social Work” on page 43, the Report said “The CJAs (Community Justice Authorities and the NAB (National Advisory Board) have been in operation for less than two years. Though it is too soon to assess their successes and failures, we remain concerned about the capacity of the CJAs to deliver on reducing reoffending, given their very limited powers and resources”

  • The Scottish Government’s Justice Analytical Services “What Works to Reduce Reoffending: A Summary of the Evidence” October 2011 on page 44 said: “Interventions that help offenders find employment, develop prosocial networks, enhance family bonds and increase levels of self-efficacy and motivation to change are those more likely to have the strongest positive impact on the risk of reoffending”.

  • Audit Scotland’s “Overview of Scotland’s Criminal Justice System”, September 2011 on page 37, said “Although CJAs were established in 2007, there are no agreed measures to assess their performance or impact. As a result, CJAs use a range of different performance indicators developed locally with different systems for reporting and presenting data”.

  • The Commission on Women Offenders (Angiolini) Report, April 2012 said on page 87, “Based on all the evidence we have read, seen and heard, we recommend that a new national service, called the Community Justice Service, is established to commission, provide and manage adult offender services in the community. Its objective would be to protect the public, reduce reoffending and promote rehabilitation”.

    Page 88 of the Report said the new Service would “take overall responsibility for the management and delivery of criminal justice services in the community, including Community Justice Centres and multi-disciplinary teams”.

  • The Scottish Government’s “Strategy for Justice in Scotland”, September 2012 on page 49 under Priority 4 said: “Reducing Reoffending: As a justice community, we will look to understand what the obstacles are to this happening, and work through programme structures to remove these obstacles and improve the commissioning and performance of rehabilitation services. This will involve, among other things, a fundamental review of funding for community justice, moves to implement a new performance management framework and a formal review of Voluntary Throughcare”.

Community Justice Authorities (CJAs) with their present powers have a difficult job. These above Reports show that despite some good practice examples, CJAs’ reducing reoffending performance is varied.

Since Third Sector Organisations have a vital interest in local service delivery, Huckfield hopes they will submit evidence, especially on the need for continuity of funding, to the Consultation on CJAs which the Scottish Government is launching shortly.

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Meanwhile, in another part of Scotland

A week before the Barlinnie conference the Prison Officers’ Association Scotland Annual Conference in Peebles on Wednesday 31 October gave an “indicative view” against the motion that “That Scottish Prison Officers are better off under a United Kingdom”

The POAS Conference rejected the “English Agenda” of HM Prisons and Probation Services commissioned from SERCO and G4S.

The Report of the Prison Officers’ Association Scotland Conference shows that they were also appreciative of the approach of Colin McConnell from Scottish Prison Service:

  • “Particularly pleasing to the ears of conference was his view that Prison Officers have much more to offer the justice system as a whole and utilising our skills and attributes in the broader context of the management of offender’s and the Scottish Governments aim of achieving a `Safer Scotland`, including working externally to the establishment, should be developed and expanded upon. A view purported by this union for some time. We look forward to working with SPS and other partner agencies on this in the future”

And, Finally

This means that those attending at Barlinnie and the Prison Officers’ Association Scotland Conference were supporting some important elements of the emerging Scottish Agenda for Reform of the Criminal Justice system.

Huckfield hopes that this rejection of the “English Agenda” may form the basis of Third Sector Organisations and others in Scotland seeking reform of the Criminal Justice Agenda and working with POAS on all of this.

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