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by Sean Duffy, the Wise Group
15 April 2021
Associate feature: New ways of preventing crime and rehabilitating offenders are a must

Associate feature: New ways of preventing crime and rehabilitating offenders are a must

Can traditional community justice interventions capture the true potential of behavioural change? It is a difficult task given that offender rehabilitation and recovery is, by its very nature, multifaceted: offenders, communities of justice social workers, academics, other agencies, businesses and the third sector connected through evidence, support provision and mentoring. 

All of us in the sector know that our justice services in Scotland continue to offer a lifeline to people leaving prison, on their way to recovering socially and economically. The publication of the Scottish Government’s report, Understanding the Social Care Support Needs of Scotland's Prison Population, highlights that justice mentoring is a public health issue as much as a judicial one.  

While Community Payback Orders, for example, continue to be impactful measures to ensure constructive means to repair harm, it is worth remembering that the pandemic has thrown a spotlight on how these might continue to be effective at scale, in what is a hybrid world of face to face and digital service provision.

In Scotland, our sustained and longterm programmes to promote community safety, crime prevention, and the desistance of those with convictions have meant less crime and fewer victims ... despite that the actual ‘doing’ list remains too long.  

The social enterprise sector has always played a critical role in the transformation of communities and individuals most in need.  

Social enterprises strengthen policy and practice at many levels of the justice ecosystem, as well as driving social and economic impact. And the third mission sees social enterprises building civic and community engagement with a wide range of partners and individuals.  

Evidence and insight produce the knowledge and innovation needed to solve problems and support evidence-based policy making. We know that organisations that designed and engaged in digital service provision early in the pandemic will have a head start towards delivering for their customers and stakeholders.  

We need a greater focus on digital solutions if we are to deliver on the progressive justice agenda in Scotland. 

The Wise Group is increasingly using the Scottish Government National Performance Framework not only to measure our own impact, but also to excite the imagination of our stakeholders about how we can build new solutions. We are integrating our insight into our operations, incorporating the framework into our face to face and online mentoring methodologies, and developing framework focused solutions for the future. 

The CPO Connect portal offers an innovative, cost effective and rapid solution to addressing the “other activity” element of an Unpaid Work Community Payback Order at a time of understandably considerable backlog. It offers remote engagement and rehabilitative sessions aimed at preventing further harm being caused.

With demand for online activities as part of CPOs increasing, CPO Connect is based on the successful Re-Connect CBT programme, offering safe and secure access to sessions covering topics including: mental wellbeing and trauma recovery; emotions, thoughts & behaviours; dealing with conflict; personal relationships; helping you into employment and training; diet & healthy eating; benefits and budgeting and alcohol & drug education. 

We are already talking about the long-lasting impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on our societies, economies, and the justice system, although the specifics are far from clear. Through all this, we shouldn’t lose sight of the importance of digital innovation. 

While we will need to find new ways of working together, in the short term and beyond, we also have an opportunity – to reimagine rehabilitation and recovery, to strengthen existing partnerships, and to build new ones that have creativity and efficiency as core principles. 

CPOs have an essential role in the justice system delivering meaningful hybrid interventions – not just those of pre COVID rehabilitation. Embracing technology, we can truly harness the sector’s potential to create meaningful change. 

Sean Duffy is the CEO of the Wise Group

This piece is sponsored by the Wise Group

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