Supporting people caught up in the criminal justice system during COVID-19
Updated: Jan 6
The impacts of COVID-19 and lockdown have been felt across Scotland and its communities. Reduced social contact, self-isolation and disruption of services has had a disproportionate effect on people who were already struggling with complex life circumstances. This includes people caught up in the criminal justice system and their ability to access the support they need.
Restrictions needed to combat coronavirus have impacted on community justice sentencing and the delivery of community-based sentences. There is a backlog of orders relating to unpaid work and it has also been more challenging for individuals on orders to complete some of the other requirements that could be part of a Community Payback Order (CPO) such as supervision or programme. Requirements that address offending behaviour and challenge people to see themselves differently.
However, during this time at Venture Trust we have continued to take referrals from criminal justice teams across Scotland in order to support them and play a part in working to alleviate the stress that has been put on Scotland’s community justice provision.
Our latest report to Scottish Government shows in the last 6 months:
Prison is not a viable option to deal with the backlog of unpaid work and the disruption to accessing other community justice sentencing options. Evidence shows short prison sentences don’t work if the aim of sending someone to prison to rehabilitate them. They are enough to disrupt employment, medical care, housing, and family relationships, but not long enough to tackle the true causes of offending behaviour. People jailed for a few months come back out even further from finding a route out of crime than they were when they went in.
It is essential that a whole system approach that includes courts, justice sector agencies and third sector organisations continue to work together to divert more people away from the justice system. Our criminal justice programmes are part of this joined up approach.