Currently, there are eight Community Justice Authorities across Scotland bringing together agencies from the public and voluntary sectors to tackle re-offending. As a member of the Glasgow Community Justice Authority, I give support to and monitor various initiatives funded to make communities safer.
In the annual report for 2012-13, there is evidence provided of the big challenges in community justice across Glasgow. What is emerging as critical is the response provided to meeting the needs of people returning to the city after a prison sentence. There is an immediate need for support with housing, access to benefits and help with health problems.
Through delivery of an area plan and eight agreed actions, there are targets in place for the Glasgow Community Justice Authority which link to:
- short term prisoner release
- building effective relationships between partners
- families of offenders
- links between prison and the community
- evidence framework
- court resources and processes
- awareness and understanding.
In the past year, the role of Community Payback Orders have been highlighted with input from service users and examples of unpaid work carried out to benefit communities. Community Payback schemes have been established as a means to punish offenders for their crimes against community without serving a prison term. Local projects can be put forward by local residents to ensure that a supervised, unpaid labour force maximise their impact to enhance the quality of life within a community. The projects are wide ranging including litter picking, decorating, grounds maintenance and landscaping works.
In December 2013, I was made aware of an initiative promoting service user voices and this involves the development of a film-making programme known as "Shared Sentences" run by a charity, Media Education. In the first phase, Media Education worked with 10 men from Glasgow and this produced seven films. The next phase during 2014 will involve film-making projects with 10 women. These films can make a significant contribute to a greater understanding of community sentences amongst agencies and the wider public.
In 2014, there is a continuing need to ensure that the various initiatives seeking to reduce reoffending are effective, and the public are better informed about how these resources contribute in making Glasgow a safer place.
Budget pressures and evolving community justice structures will be significant issues to be addressed through partnership working. Before the end of 2013, the Scottish Government published its response to the consultation on the redesign of community justice. From 2016, planning and delivery of community justice will transfer from the eight Community Justice Authorities to Scotland's thirty two Community Planning Partnerships. There will be a national body created, to provide leadership and accountability for the new structure.
Shared Sentences by Media Education - http://brushed-up-uk.tumblr.com
Glasgow Community Justice Authority - www.glasgowcja.org.uk