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Publication - Publication

National Strategy for Community Justice

Published: 24 Nov 2016
Part of:
Communities and third sector, Law and order
ISBN:
9781786526168

This strategy provides a shared vision to help partners and communities work together effectively to improve community justice outcomes.

56 page PDF

3.3MB

56 page PDF

3.3MB

Contents
National Strategy for Community Justice
4 Improved Community Understanding and Participation

56 page PDF

3.3MB

4 Improved Community Understanding and Participation

Informing local communities about community justice issues and involving them in the decisions that affect them will support reintegration, reduce stigma, and lead to the delivery of better, more responsive services and improved community justice outcomes.

We will drive improvement in the following areas:

  • Increase communities' awareness and understanding of community justice.
  • Strengthen community participation in the planning, delivery and evaluation of community justice services and policy.
  • Change the conversation to support reintegration and reduce stigma.

Scotland's communities are a rich source of energy, creativity and talent, made up of people with diverse backgrounds who each have something to contribute to making Scotland flourish. [4]

Informing local communities about community justice issues and involving them in the decisions that affect them will support reintegration, reduce stigma, and lead to the delivery of better, more responsive services and improved community justice outcomes.

Although each area will have their own definition of "community" including a range of different interests and geographical areas, the following groups must be included:

  • Victims of crime and their families.
  • People with convictions and their families.
  • People who live in the community.
  • Local businesses.
  • Community bodies.

Increasing communities' awareness and understanding of community justice

The degree to which communities understand community justice can have a significant impact on a range of issues such as:

  • Awareness of offending rates in their area.
  • Fear of being a victim of crime.
  • willingness to support community justice interventions.
  • Support for preventative approaches that may require long-term investment and planning.
  • The impact of stigma and how it can fracture communities.

Furthermore, many community justice services are made possible through members of the community offering their time to organisations that seek to prevent and reduce further offending. The public attitude towards community justice is important in encouraging this culture of participation.

There is a lot of effective engagement already underway. Many CPPs have community engagement plans and partners have well-established engagement mechanisms. It is important that these are taken advantage of so that engagement can be carried out with minimal additional burden to communities. [5]

To raise awareness and understanding of community justice issues, partners should:

Develop a communication strategy that outlines plans to raise awareness of community justice issues to communities and local media, as well as local decision makers such as the judiciary.

Review and capitalise upon existing engagement mechanisms and good practice.

Develop the evidence base to help improve understanding of community justice issues in their area while taking advantage of existing research infrastructure and including contributions from academic, statutory and third sector partners.

Strengthening community participation in the planning, delivery and evaluation of community justice services and policy

"Communities can be considered experts in their own needs and by enabling greater input into service planning and delivery, the public sector may uncover innovative delivery mechanisms which more effectively meet their service users' requirements." [6]

Scottish Council for Development and Industry, 2014

Although it is vital to increase awareness of community justice issues, the evidence gathered by the Christie Commission on the future delivery of Public Services demonstrates that engagement is not sufficient, and that reforms must also aim to involve communities in the design and delivery of public services.

Effective community participation should inform decisions about prioritisation and how services are shaped and resources deployed, as well as how partners evaluate community justice services and policies and revise their plans as a result of this. Communities and community bodies should be increasingly involved in co-production, working together to jointly design and deliver services and support where they wish to do so. Effective co-production combines the mutual strengths and capacities of partners to achieve positive change.

Partners should seek to ensure the most disadvantaged communities are involved in this process, including those who have personal experience of the justice system. It is important that there are mechanisms for victims of crime to feedback on community justice matters such as local initiatives and how they have impacted on the community.

Securing active, constructive and ongoing involvement may require commitment from partners to strengthen the capacity of communities and community bodies to participate.

To strengthen community participation, partners should:

Develop a community participation strategy and involve communities in community justice planning, delivery and evaluation, as well as co-designing and co-delivering services to fit locally identified needs.

Support communities on any capacity building required to enable their participation.

Changing the conversation to support reintegration and reduce stigma

"Research suggests that offenders who feel a welcomed part of society are less likely to reoffend compared to those who feel stigmatised. It is therefore important that criminal justice professionals work not only with offenders but also with their family, friends and the wider community (e.g. employers, community groups, the voluntary sector) to ensure pro-social and positive relationships can be developed and sustained." [7]

What Works to Reduce Reoffending, 2015

After people have been released from custody or completed community sentences, it is vital that we support them to reintegrate into society. We must be aware of the power of language to facilitate or inhibit this process.

Defining people as "offenders" for the rest of their lives, will not help to change their behaviours, or shift attitudes within wider society. We encourage partners to use the term:

person with convictions
or
person with an offending history,

while also taking care to use language that is sensitive to victims of crime.

Be mindful of the importance of language

Partners should use language that is inclusive to people with convictions and victims of crime.


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