RESPOND OR REACT? – A QUESTION OF TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR PUBLIC RESOURCES
BY TOM JACKSON, Head of Community Justice Glasgow
In the past few years in the Annual Reports I have outlined the Community Justice Glasgow Partnership’s progress in agreeing and delivering a Collaborative Commissioning Strategy and Action Plan. Previous articles can be read by clicking the links below:
In summary, over 2017–18 we worked to develop a shared vision and set of priority objectives and through the Collaborative Commissioning Working Group delivered a shared Commissioning Framework and Set of Principles.
In 2018–19, through a collaborative process, the Partnership committed to initially addressing issues to enhance Diversion from Prosecution opportunities and to provide more robust alternatives to remand. Early modelling of different scenario trajectories and consideration of how collaborative resource and commissioning planning could drive policy aspirations and release funds in Glasgow, suggested that even a modest 2% annual reduction in remand numbers could, by the end of 8 years, save in excess of £1.5m direct from Prison costs.
Tactical steps by the Partnership to prioritise prevention over reaction, recognises that modest changes should instigate lasting savings in the system and positive outcomes for individuals and communities – a more effective response the Justice System – called for in the findings of the Christie Commission (2011) on the future of public services.
The Commission recognised that one of the major barriers to the adoption of preventative action has been the extent to which resources are currently tied up in dealing with short-term problems, to the exclusion of efforts to improve outcomes in the longer term.
“When preventative programmes are targeted at solving well-researched problems and are strategically led and delivered, they can have an enormous impact on service delivery, providing a cost-effective use of tax-payers’ money”
(NESTA quoted in Christie Commission (2011), p54)
“In a future of declining budgetary resources and increasing demand, the imperative of reducing demand makes that adoption of preventative approaches incontrovertible….In the context of budgetary decline and increasing demand for services, the adoption of preventative approaches may be more challenging but it is imperative. A preventative approach offers a key means of tackling ‘failure-demand’.
(Christie Commission (2011), p55)
In this respect we can regard Diversion from Prosecution and robust Alternatives to Remand such as Bail Support as earlier intervention and prevention in regard to ‘failure-demands’ – such as custodial sentences.
Evidence on what works to reduce re-offending tells us that prison – the mostly costly response in the justice system – at circa £40k per prison place per annum at current costs – should be a place of last resort, particularly for those who pose a lower risk to our communities. This is particularly poignant in regard to short-term sentences, where we know that diversion from prosecution, alternatives to remand and community based options – such as Community Payback Orders, are more effective at tackling re-offending, and put significantly less financial burden on the system as a whole.
Over 2019–20, through a series of collaborative events and workshops, Action Plans were developed to reduce Remand by improving Bail Support and Improving Diversion from Prosecution options. You can read about progress in regard to both in other articles in this Annual Report by clicking on the links below:
REDUCING REMAND – IMPROVING BAIL SUPPORT
A PLAN TO IMPROVE DIVERSION FROM POROSECTION OPTIONS (ADULT)