Community justice services have almost returned to pre-pandemic levels with partners working closely across the system from arrest to sentence and following release from prison, according to a new report.
Dundee City Council’s city governance committee will be told that in 2022/23 more Community Payback Orders (CPOs) were imposed by the Sheriff Court than in the previous year, with 65% of these successfully completed.
John Alexander committee convener said: “Successful implementation of community justice is a complex process with many moving parts, including victims of crime, perpetrators, prosecutors, sheriffs, Police Scotland, Scottish Prison Service and local authority professionals.
“While it is good to see that the system has largely recovered from the disruption caused by Covid-19 the annual report also recognises that there are still opportunities and challenges for services going forward including reducing the high use of remand, short-term custodial sentences and partnership working to enhance whole family approaches towards people in the justice system.”
Roisin Smith, depute convener of the council’s children, families and communities committee added: “Going forward the routine collection and collation of data, which is a feature of the new Community Justice plan, will help us and our partners to better understand the impact of different types of support at various parts of the system, including levels of engagement, different outcomes, re-offending and unmet need.”
Covering the period 2022/2023, the annual report showcases developments including:
- 162 referrals for Diversion from Prosecution by the Crown Office Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) which 77 people started and 53 completed;
- 714 people had court reports on them completed by the Justice Social Work Service;
- 16 Bail Supervision cases;
- 44 Structured Deferred Sentences
- 447 Community Payback Orders (CPOs) were imposed by the Sheriff Court;
- 57% of CPOs included a requirement to attend Unpaid Work;
- 38,101 hours of Unpaid Work hours;
- 65% of all CPOs were successfully completed; and
- 189 short-term prisoners were supported by the Justice Service on their release to the community.
The Community Justice Outcome and Improvement Plan 2023-26 sets outs a number of actions for partners during the period of the plan. These include proposals to work to:
- increase appropriate Diversion from Prosecution referrals;
- strengthen and extend alternatives to remands;
- maximise support to short-term prisoners both in custody and on release;
- implement a new multi-agency approach towards vulnerable adolescents
- develop whole family responses to criminal justice, including support to women and children as victims of crime; and
- better understand and respond to the lived experience of the criminal justice system.
Councillors will be asked to approve the annual report and new outcome and improvement plan at the city governance committee meeting on Monday (November 20).
Dundee draws skilled workers from a 60-minute catchment population of 640,000 and has a local population of over 140,000. The availability of a large pool of highly skilled labour is a key feature in the Dundee economy. Flexibility in the labour force is currently more prevalent in Dundee than in Scotland as a whole. All forms of labour market flexibility - part-time, temporary employment, self-employment and shift work - are widely operational within the city. Labour force stability in the city is excellent, enabling companies to plan with confidence. Labour turnover levels are less than 5% and absenteeism averages 2%.