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Unison has called on the Scottish Executive and MSPs to abandon the idea of creating a new criminal justice quango ...
Unison has called on the Scottish Executive and MSPs to abandon the idea of creating a new criminal justice quango by merging the Prison Service and social work criminal justice services.

In a briefing sent to MSPs, the union, which represents workers in the social work criminal justice services says that many of the current proposals in

the Executive consultation are based on the idea that sentencing systems

alone will reduce re-offending. In fact, the union says, we need to provide

more opportunities for offenders to move away from law-breaking. This means

increasing properly resourced community-based sentences, and increasing the

integration of agencies working in the community.

Stephen Smellie, chair of UnisonScotland's social work issues group said:

'Like the Executive we want the emphasis to be on tackling

re-offending. But the creation of a new quango will do nothing to reduce

re-offending. All the evidence from abroad shows that strengthening the

ability to work with people in the community, non-custodial sentences and

probation are more effective in stopping crime. A new unaccountable body

dominated by the Prison Service would be likely to place a greater emphasis

on punishment and custody.

He also points out that social work criminal justice services are delivering.

'Concerns regarding re-offending don't indicate failure of social work

services. Criminal justice teams are successfully addressing re-offending,

and to improve this we need to increase the resources available to them and

more closely integrate them with other local government services like

social work, housing, education and community services - not rip them out

of local government altogether.'

The union also believes that the cost and disruption of another unelected

quango will remove more services from local control, divert attention from

the need to reduce re-offending and make it more difficult to achieve the

Executive's aim.

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