Strategic Commissioning in Community Justice

The Community Justice (Scotland) Act 2016 set out arrangements for a new, local model of community justice, where local partnerships collaborate in planning and developing their community justice arrangements.  In the National Strategy for Community Justice 2016, the Scottish Government highlighted the importance of developing a strategic approach to commissioning of services for community justice in Scotland, and brought front and centre the need for partners to collaborate in developing innovative approaches.  The National Strategy states:

“Changing our thinking about the commissioning of services is crucial to achieving improved outcomes. Service provision should be based on a mixed economy approach that capitalises on the unique skills of statutory community justice partners, the third Sector, community bodies, and the private sector.” ‘National Strategy for Community Justice 2016‘, Scottish Government, 2016

Scottish Government will task the new national body, Community Justice Scotland, with working with partners and stakeholders to develop a strategic approach to commissioning.

In order to contribute to this discussion, the Criminal Justice Voluntary Sector Forum (CJVSF) surveyed our members and held discussion sessions, and worked with CCPS colleagues to pool our collective views into a briefing on the topic, available on our resources page.  The discussion paper touches on some of the barriers to positive commissioning arrangements that exist between commissioners and service providers, and reports key recommendations that our members think should feature in the development of a strategic model of commissioning.

CJVSF Recommendations

The following recommendations are seen as key in developing a positive strategic model of commissioning for the new model Community Justice.

  1. Commissioning must set the priorities and direction for procurement processes. Commissioning strategies should link specifically to procurement strategies articulating how procurement will help them deliver their commissioning plans.
  2. Collaborative methods should be employed throughout the commissioning cycle- drawing in the expertise, experience and views of service providers; service users; and their families.
  3. Better use should be made of data from the third sector- using this to inform both commissioning and procurement strategies.
  4. Purchasing authorities should consider all approaches to procurement and funding to deliver their commissioning priorities.
Where competitive tendering is used:
  1. The process should be as proportionate as possible- reducing the barriers to market entry faced by small to medium providers.
  2. Attention should be given to the impact of (re) tendering on existing service users and their families.
  3. Selection should not be on written responses alone. Interviews and visits should be part of the process.
  4. Specifications should be outcomes focussed – setting out the problem the purchasing authority wants to solve – not the detail of service delivery, approach or theoretical basis.
  1. Contracts should be short, relevant and understandable.
  2. Relationship contracting (including alliancing) should be actively explored as a constructive approach to contracting with the sector.

For more detail on the rationale behind these recommendations, please view our discussion paper.  We look forward to participating in the conversation with all stakeholders about this important topic.  If you have any viewpoints you wish to share on a strategic approach to commissioning in community justice or would like to know more, please get in touch with CJVSF Development Coordinator Rose McConnachie.