Call for evidence on the Community Justice (Scotland) Bill

The Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee is seeking views on the general principles of the Community Justice (Scotland) Bill, which was introduced in the Scottish Parliament on 7 May 2015. A copy of the Bill can be found at the following link:

The Policy Memorandum sets out the objectives of the Bill: “to help create a stronger community justice system based on local collaborative strategic planning and delivery, with national leadership, support and assurance”. The Bill therefore abolishes the eight existing regional community justice authorities and creates a new model for community justice services. These proposals follow reports published in 2012 by the Commission on Women Offenders and by Audit Scotland which highlighted concerns about the current model for community justice, and two subsequent Scottish Government consultations which identified support for introduction of a new model.

The Justice Committee is particularly interested in your views on the following areas of the Bill:

1. Will the proposals in the Bill transform the community justice system in the way envisaged by the Commission on Women Offenders in its 2012 report, such as addressing the weaknesses identified in the current model, tackling reoffending and reducing the prison population?

2. Are you content that the definition of ‘community justice’ in the Bill is appropriate?

3. Will the proposals for a new national body (Community Justice Scotland) lead to improvements in areas such as leadership, oversight, identification of best practice and the commissioning of services?

4. Taking into account the reforms set out in the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill relating to Community Planning Partnerships, will Community Justice Partners have the powers, duties and structures required to effectively perform their proposed role in relation to community justice?

5. Does the Bill achieve the right balance between national and local responsibility?

6. Will the proposed reforms support improvement in terms of:
(a) leadership, strategic direction and planning?
(b) consultation and accountability?
(c) partnership and collaboration?
(d) commissioning of services and achieving best value for money?

7. Are the resources, as set out in the Financial Memorandum, sufficient to transform the community justice system in the way envisaged by the Commission on Women Offenders in its 2012 report?

8. Is the timetable for moving to the new arrangements by 1 April 2017 achievable?

9. Could the proposals in the Bill be improved and, if so, how?

Further details on the Bill are contained in the Policy Memorandum and Explanatory Notes.

The Justice Committee is due to take oral evidence on the Bill at meetings in September, before reporting on the general principles at the end of October/start of November 2015.

Format of written submissions
The Justice Committee invites all interested organisations and individuals to submit written evidence on the provisions in the Bill no later than 5.00 pm on Wednesday 12 August 2015.

Before you draft a submission, please read the Parliament’s policy on the treatment of written evidence by subject and mandatory committees. Please also ensure that your submission:
• is up to 4 sides of A4
(longer submissions should include a short summary of the main issues)
• is set out with numbered paragraphs
• includes hyperlinks or full citations when you are referring to existing published material (rather than quoting extensive extracts)
• is provided electronically in word processing format (e.g. Microsoft Word or Apple pages) wherever possible.

Your submission will be published on the Committee webpages. However, if you would prefer your evidence to be treated confidentially, please contact the Justice clerks (at the contact details below) before submitting your evidence. It is for the Committee to take any decisions on whether to accept a submission on the basis that it will not be published (although it would be seen in full by the Committee). The Parliament is however required to consider requests for information under freedom of information legislation and therefore we cannot guarantee that the evidence will never be released.

Submit your evidence:

by email to: [email protected]

or in hard copy to:

Justice Committee Clerks

Room T2.60

The Scottish Parliament

Edinburgh, EH99 1SP

If you have any queries about written submissions, please contact the Justice clerks on 0131 348 5220 or at the contact details above.

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