News In Focus
Community justice expert group to begin work
An expert group focused on improving the delivery of community justice interventions will meet tomorrow (21 August) for the first time.
The National Community Justice Leadership Group will link into other national groups including the Drug Deaths Taskforce and Homelessness Prevention & Strategy Group to consider multiple and complex needs.
Comprising senior leaders from justice, health, local government and social work, it will identify and coordinate action to further strengthen community justice services and alternatives to custody. It will also focus on increasing public and judicial confidence in community justice by demonstrating its effectiveness in supporting rehabilitation and reducing reoffending.
The group will operate following the extension to the presumption against short prison sentences from three months to 12, which came into effect on 4 July. The change was made with the aim of reducing reconviction rates.
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf and Councillor Kelly Parry, COSLA’s Communities and Wellbeing spokesperson, will co-chair the group.
Mr Yousaf commented: “Our goal is to change attitudes and support a wider cultural shift that goes beyond simply increasing the proportion of sentences served in the community. We need to strengthen delivery and improve confidence in community justice interventions at every stage – from pre-prosecution through to court and post-sentencing, including helping people leaving prison. Clear leadership is required at every level, bringing together the important work already taking place across justice and other services to prevent offending and victimisation.”
Councillor Parry added: “I welcome the greater emphasis on community alternatives to custody as an alternative which is likely to be more effective. However I recognise that public confidence needs to be developed further in these measures."