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Tue 2 March 2004

New quango will not stop re-offending - UNISON

UNISONScotland, the public services union today responded with concern to the inclusion a new centralised body in the consultation paper on tackling re-offending.

Stephen Smellie, Chair of UNISONScotland's Social Work Issues Group said "Whilst we welcome the emphasis on tackling re-offending in the consultation paper, the creation of a new quango may weaken rather than strengthen the ability to work with people in the community. We fail to see how a new quango will do anything to reduce re-offending and cut crime. A new unaccountable body dominated by the Prison Service would be likely to place a greater emphasis on punishment and custody. What evidence there is indicates that non-custodial sentences are more effective in stopping crime."

"We are also concerned that this major shake up in treating offending is only to have a 90-day consultation period. This will be very tight for a number of bodies who would want to respond. Does this mean the Executive have already made up their mind?"

Joe Di Paola, Unison's Scottish Organiser for Local Government also points out that this removes a service from local control. "To remove the planning, running and liasing functions of criminal justice from local control, and place them in a huge centralised body, flies in the face of the Executive's stated aim. If they really want to encourage rehabilitation, prevent re-offending and improve the quality of life in our communities they should be improving communications between local bodies and national agencies, following the Justice Committee's recommendation of more investment and resources and introducing a more radical approach to sentencing."

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact: Stephen Smellie (Chair - Soc Wk Issues Group) 01698 454690(o) 07740 096 864(m) Joe Di Paola (Scottish Org - Local Govt): 0845 355 0845(o) 07990 505 698(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer): 0870 7777006(o) 07715 583 729(m)

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