7 ways the Wise Group contributed to the Strategic Commissioning Framework for Community Justice

In July 2019, Community Justice Scotland published the Strategic Commissioning Framework for Community Justice with the aim of supporting local Partnerships to develop effective joint strategic commissioning of community justice services.  We welcome the publication of an effective framework for commissioning justice services in Scotland, and are pleased to see this as a first step in creating a model for long term change.  However, we feel that the draft framework doesn’t go far enough to positively impact the lives of those within the Scottish justice system.  


In this article we share the 7 key points we highlighted in our response.  


 1. National strategy or guidance document? 
We understood that this framework was to be the definitive blueprint for strategic commissioning in community justice – something we welcome.  However, in its current form as a simple guidance document, the framework misses an opportunity to drive significant system change across Scotland’s 30 Community Justice Partnerships (CJPs).  We feel that the lack of a structured strategic commissioning framework will result in a lack of consistency, varying degrees of uptake, and increase the risk of incomplete and inconsistent reporting. 


2. Role of the Third Sector is underwhelming 
We welcome the desire for “Increased collaboration, coproduction and strengthened partnership working”, yet there is minimal reference in the framework to the role of the Third Sector. 
In the Community Justice (Scotland) Act there was an aspiration to include the third sector as full partners in the CJPs, yet the third sector is not seen as one of the key partners in this model.  
We recommend adding a short term outcome to the “Model for Long Term Effectiveness” that CJPs are adapted to include third sector representation as full partners. 


 3. Outcomes should be more ambitious and tangible
In society, we expect too much change in one year and not enough in 10 – so we invite Community Justice Scotland to be more ambitious. 
We don’t think the goals for 10-15 years are stretch goals – especially without quantitative measures.  For example, the outcome “Prevent and reduce reoffending” is vague, and may be better phrased as the number of people per 100,000 who (re)offend.  We would like to see a specific outcome in the model to reduce prison numbers – something that is key to the community justice agenda, yet is not evident in the model. 


 4. What are the challenges of data collection, and can we unlock its value? 
There are a number of challenges with data in the sector and the model should address this directly – at present, it doesn’t.  These challenges include: 
  • There is not a consistent set of data gathered by statutory and non-statutory partners  
  • The ways data is used between CJPs varies 
  • There is currently no comprehensive national baseline 
We would like to see more consideration given to the centralisation and analysis of data to deliver and commission evidence-led services.  See Point 7 for more information. 


5. There’s no emphasis on value for money
There is no mention of the value for money provided by partners – statutory and non-statutory alike.  We believe services should be assessed and evaluated routinely to ensure they provide value for money for the public purse. This will allow funding to be diverted to services which make the biggest impact. 
Commissioners should be encouraged to offer multi-year funding models (something the third sector has repeatedly called for), with break clauses where value for money is not being achieved. 


 6. Is encouraging local service commissioning in each Community Justice Partnership the right approach? 
The commissioning model seems to encourage each CJP to design services for their area.  We feel that an opportunity to maximise economies of scale has been missed here.  Local delivery is critical, but it is possible to have a nationwide service that has local delivery at its heart – see New Routes Mentoring and Shine Women’s Mentoring, which are both successful models in supporting the path to desistance.  
We recommend this strategic commissioning strategy seeks to encourage nationwide services that can be adapted for local delivery – driving standardisation and unlocking economies of scale. Our experience in leading the New Routes PSP partnership shows how nationwide services can be delivered at a local level – positively and cost-effectively impacting the lives and communities of those we support. 


 7. Create a national model for service delivery 
In order to commission a national model that is delivered locally, we call for a standardisation in service mapping and delivery.  For example, employment programmes in Scotland all follow the Employability Pipeline, which allows every organisation to clearly align their services and outcomes to the five phases detailed in the Pipeline 
We believe that a national model, which clearly maps services against customer progression, will enable standardised data collection, easier outcome measurement, and clearly calculation of value for money.  


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If you’d like to chat more about the work we do or you think we could work together to reduce offending, get in touch.
Read our full response