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Community court plans for Glasgow

26 March 2007

Scotland's first community justice centre and community court is to be established in Glasgow, based on a model used in the United States.

Offenders will be punished for crimes such as antisocial behaviour, vandalism and housebreaking, but they will also be offered support for problems such as addiction, mental health and debt, through the centre, which will bring all criminal justice services together under one roof.

The scheme, expected to take two years to set up, will be led by a dedicated community judge and will involve the fast-tracking of cases through the justice system. Part of the judge's role will be to engage with the local community, which will be able to identify the type of work it wants offenders to undertake, to repair the damage they have caused.

The project - which involves the Executive, Glasgow City Council, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, the judiciary, and the community - could be dealing with about 2,000 cases a year.

The Council is working to identify suitable sites. Its priority is to ensure communities are consulted on the centre and its location, as community involvement will be vital to its success. The cost is estimated to be £5-7 million for set-up, depending whether a new building is required, and a further £1.5-£2 million a year in running costs.

Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson said:

"We know that persistent offenders - even where small in number - can drag a whole community down. The community justice centre, through its unique problem-solving approach, will help us take a further step towards tackling that.

The centre, she added, "will punish offenders for their behaviour, but it will also ensure they pay back to their community for the consequences of their actions. Swift, visible justice - often through supervised work schemes which will provide environmental and other benefits to the community.

"It will also provide a range of support services to tackle the root causes of an offender's behaviour."

Ms Jamieson emphasised that "Central to its work will be the role of the judge who will need to be a 'people's judge' in every sense if this bold initiative is to achieve what we all want."