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Audit Scotland Report: Community justice: Sustainable alternatives to custody

NEWS | 15th July 2021

On 15 July 2021, Audit Scotland released this report on community justice: sustainable alternative to custody.

Karyn McCluskey, Chief Executive, Community Justice Scotland comments:

“I welcome Audit Scotland’s focus on community justice and its recognition that community justice can be transformative for individuals and communities.

Make no mistake, there are public and third sector workers all over Scotland doing the most extraordinary work, in the most difficult circumstances. They are preventing offending and helping people to change their lives. They are hidden away but show extraordinary resilience in supporting many complex people in communities.

However, we have a strong body of evidence around what works to reduce offending, but it is not being used consistently. We have highlighted this in our annual reports for the last number of years. We cannot have this inconsistency – it must matter to all of us.

Now is the time to transform the system. We must step up and embrace a radical paradigm shift into prevention – preventing victimisation and making Scotland the safest country. We must ensure that the right people are in place, in the right numbers with the right support to deliver this. It must also be accountable – if everyone is accountable, then no one is – and this must change.

We must imprison those whom we are afraid of, and not those we are mad at. People enter our justice system with mental health issues, addiction problems, homeless, from the care system  and many who’ve been victimised as children – addressing problems and solutions in a community setting is key to transforming lives – both of victims and those who have offended. We should have the confidence that we can do this consistently and to a high standard across Scotland.”

Glenys Watt, Acting Chair, Community Justice Scotland said of the report:

“I am pleased that Audit Scotland have repeated some of the findings contained in the Community Justice Scotland outcomes annual reports for the last few years.

We have highlighted the need for greater consistency in service provision across Scotland and for clearer accountability. Hopefully this report will support progress towards a more preventive approach.”

Editors notes

  • Launched on 1 April 2017 by the Community Justice (Scotland) Act 2016, Community Justice Scotland (CJS) is the national body for community justice in Scotland.
  • Community Justice Scotland’s remit is wide-ranging and includes:
    • Providing leadership, training and insight to support partners to prevent offending and reduce the number of future victims.
    • Changing the conversation about justice, increasing understanding and support for what will make Scotland better for all of us.
    • Giving expert evidence and detailed briefings to parliament, helping to shape laws and policies to be the best they can for communities across Scotland.
    • Working with partners to help drive change by identifying improvements and challenges in the community justice system.
    • Identifying worldwide expertise, best practice, and introducing fresh ideas which inspire innovation and change.
  • Find the annual reports on community justice outcome activity across Scotland here:

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