Community justice schemes to prevent criminals reoffending awarded £3m funding

Community justice programmes to help prevent criminals reoffending will share nearly £3 million from the Scottish Government.

The cash will fund schemes including community payback supervision, employment training, early intervention and support for prisoners’ families – and comes ahead of ministers putting forward plans to extend the presumption against short prison sentences to a year.

A total of £2.95 million will be shared between seven charities, including criminal justice social work service provider Sacro. It runs a series of schemes including supervising offenders on community payback orders.

Other organisations benefiting include Families Outside, which helps families of those in prison, and Turning Point Scotland, which runs supported bail programmes.

Apex Scotland, the Venture Trust, Supporting Offenders with Learning Disabilities and Positive Prison? Positive Futures will also share in the funding for 2019/20, which the Government said is the same amount as the previous financial year.

The Scottish Government’s 2019/20 budget for community justice services of £37.1 million is up £1.7 million on 2018/19.

Final spending totals for the previous financial year indicate a £5 million underspend on community justice services in the 2017/18 budget, attributed to budgeted cash not spent on electronic monitoring and support packages, said to be demand led.

New legislation to expand the use of electronic monitoring is currently before the Scottish Parliament, and underspends in the budget can be carried forward to the following year.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “Reconviction rates are at their lowest level in 19 years – helping to keep crime down and communities safe – and these services play a vital role in helping to reduce reoffending through specialist interventions with individuals and support for families.

“These charities work alongside community justice partners to support individuals to face their problems and change their lives for the better.

“They also make a valuable contribution in working with victims and communities affected by crime, helping people deal with the trauma and other consequences of offending behaviour.

“We are bringing forward plans to extend the presumption against short prison sentences this year and with more people serving community sentences these support services will be more important than ever.”

The Government plans put forward an order to extend the presumption against community sentences from three months to a year in Easter and, subject to parliamentary approval, this would come into effect in summer.

Sacro Chief Executive Tom Halpin welcomed the continuing grant, adding: “This award enables us to provide services across Scotland’s communities that directly support people to change their lives away from crime.”

Professor Nancy Loucks, chief executive of Families Outside, said: “The origins and impact of offending, and solutions required, extend well beyond the criminal justice system.

“The Scottish Government clearly recognises this, and Families Outside is grateful for that insight and support.”