Moral Panic or Moral Crusade?

Prof Viv Cree of University of Edinburgh was a recent guest speaker for the Howard League Scotland. Professor Cree illustrated that moral panics about youth culture are not, despite the way they are often portrayed, a modern phenomena. For example, when cinema first emerged as a form of entertainment it was viewed as having the potential to be a morally perilous activity for young people in much the same way many people today decry the dangers of the internet. There is also something darker in these bouts of anxiety about young people in the way they become demonized, labelled with derogatory language. Viv's lecture went onto to explore possible explanations for moral panics concerning young people.
If you missed the lecture but want to find out more, see her power point slides see here:

Moral Panic or Moral Crusade?

Prof Viv Cree of University of Edinburgh was a recent guest speaker for the Howard League Scotland. Professor Cree illustrated that moral panics about youth culture are not, despite the way they are often portrayed, a modern phenomena. For example, upon its introduction as a new technology, cinema was viewed as a perilous activity in much the same way many people decry the internet and its dangers for young people today. There is also something darker in these bouts of anxiety about young people in the way they become demonized, labelled with derogatory language. Viv's lecture went onto to explore possible interlinked explanations for moral panics
If you missed the lecture but want to find out more, see her power point slides see here:

Criminal Justice Social Work Annual Report 2012-13

Annual statistical bulletin on criminal justice social work in Scotland

Read the report here:

Cabinet Secretary for Justice Kenny MacAskill - Women's Penal Policy

Last week, we invited nine experts working with women offenders to review what progress there had been in the two years since the publication of the report of the Commission on Women Offenders. This included reviews from organisations such as SACRO, the Violence Reduction Unit, Families Outside, Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People, Circle Scotland, the 218 Service, two Community Justice Authority Chief Officers and the Convener of the Scottish Working Group on Women Offenders. Below Cabinet Secretary for Justice Kenny MacAskill outlines his own view on progress to date:

The Scottish Government asked the Rt. Hon. Dame Elish Angiolini DBE, QC to chair the independent Commission on Women Offenders because the issue of how women are dealt with in the criminal justice system, and the reasons why the female prison population has been rising over the last decade, are amongst some of the most pressing social issues of recent times.

In the two years that have followed the publication of the Commission’s report, we have worked in partnership with a wide range of partners and stakeholders to make substantial progress on implementation of the Commission’s recommendations. This work is beginning to yield results and we are already seeing significant changes to the landscape of services for women offenders across Scotland.

The Commission recognised that prison was a necessary part of the criminal justice system’s response to serious and prolific female offenders – but it placed a strong emphasis on the importance of prison providing a range of gender-sensitive offending behaviour programmes and interventions aimed at addressing the particular needs of women. The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) has met the Commission’s challenge head on and a new national prison for women, with local provision for women offenders from the west of Scotland, will open in Inverclyde in 2017. The design layout and culture within the new Establishment reflects a fresh approach to rehabilitation and wellbeing, and it will mirror all of the Commission’s aspirations for what a prison for women should be.

In the meantime, and until these new facilities are ready, significant investment by the SPS in HMP and YOI Cornton Vale, has radically improved the environment and conditions there. Staff working with women continue to receive specific training in supporting women with mental ill health and more generally in how to meet the particular needs of women in custody.

Additionally, a new regional unit for women within HMP and YOI Grampian has already opened and now women from the north and north east of Scotland who are remanded or serving a sentence, can be held closer to their families and communities.

The Scottish Government has also been working with the 8 Community Justice Authorities across Scotland to develop support for women offenders in line with the Commission’s aspirations. We have provided £3m in 2014 and 2015 to deliver community justice centres and services. These new services will support women to reduce their reoffending, by helping them to make the changes they need to make in their lives to move away from crime and become active and participating citizens.

We have also invested a further £10m through the Reducing Reoffending Change Fund to establish a number of national and local mentoring services for women and young male prolific offenders. Mentoring is a common-sense measure to provide practical support, where and when it is needed by an offender. The “Shine” mentoring service for women, which is delivered by a partnership of Third and public sector partners, will provide help to women offenders across Scotland.

In response to the report of the Commission on Women Offenders, we agreed to trialling a problem solving summary criminal court in Scotland. This trial will provide an opportunity to establish the proactive role of the judiciary, join up services and demonstrate to communities that community justice options can be responsive to local communities whilst also being effective in reducing reoffending. We are working with local partners to develop at least one problem solving court in Scotland.

Problem solving courts harness the authority of the judge both to join up the services that are required to address someone’s offending behaviour, and to engage directly in a relationship with an offender in a way that motivates and encourages them to stop offending. Problem solving courts also tend to engage more energetically and directly with their communities, so that public opinion is both reflected in, and led by, the process of developing the court. These types of courts now have an established track record internationally. Having originated in the US in the 1990s, there are now thousands of problem solving courts across the world, and their numbers continue to grow. There is now a substantial evidence base supporting this approach.

The Commission had strong views about the need for strategic leadership and co-ordination for community justice services across Scotland, and we have included their views in ongoing consultation on the future of justice in Scotland. Last week the Scottish Government launched its consultation “Future Model for Community Justice in Scotland”. The new model will see strategic planning and delivery of community justice services passing to Community Planning Partnerships (CPPs), complemented by the creation of a national body called Community Justice Improvement Scotland (CJIS).

This model delivers a community solution to the reoffending problem, with CPPs becoming the vehicle for much needed partnership and collaboration. CJIS will drive the performance culture which will define the new arrangements, providing new opportunities for strategic commissioning of services based on an analysis of needs.

Since the Commission published its report, I have delivered two very positive progress reports to the Justice Committee of the Scottish Parliament and the Committee has been encouraged by the progress so far.

I am encouraged to see the substantial progress that has been made over the past two years. It is clear however, that there is much still to be done. The Scottish Government will continue to work hard, and with others across the whole of the public sector, so that together, we can meet the shared challenge the Commission for Women Offenders has set us all.

218 Service - Case Studies

  • Case Study 1

The 218 is a safe and caring environment and focused on recovery:

Anna* has a long history of alcohol misuse and offending. Now at 36 she has been given a residential place in the 218 Centre. Here she has engaged with the group therapy which focuses on offending behaviour, addiction and emotions. She has also been able to work with a mental health nurse and has her own assigned key worker for more individual support.

At the beginning this was difficult as it was painful to really take a look at her problems, speaking about any past traumas and exploring why she kept reoffending. However, Anna has found the 218 a safe environment and her relationship with the staff has been fundamental in her transformation, saying that ‘It’s a safe environment because you’ve got caring staff here. You’ve got people who support you here and that makes you open up to them because you know they care’.

The 218 organised for Anna to attend a five day Venture Trust activity break where she was involved in an array of outdoor activities. Anna had never done anything like this before and found it to be one of the best experiences she ever had. Even though she was afraid of heights she even went abseiling.

Anna described herself as broken and suicidal when she first arrived at the 218, but she the last the 3 months in the 218 have been restorative and Anna feels that it has given her back her life. As a result of her transformation she has also begun to rebuild relationships with her family, with whom she had lost contact. Her family have been able to see the positive changes while in the 218 Centre.

  • Case Study 2

The 218 tackles the complex needs exhibited by women offenders:

Beth first came into contact with the criminal justice system at 14. She has been in and out of prison and has also been homeless. At 36, Beth has been a resident in the 218 Project now for over four months.

She has found the 218 to be different from prison because in the 218 the focus has been on the recovery - recovery from addiction, from childhood trauma and overcoming depression. These, as is the case for so many women in the criminal justice system, are some of the underlying causes of her offending behaviour. In focusing on these the 218 aims to help Beth break her pattern of offending.  In prison she was a number, but in the 218 she feels like she is treated as a person. By the time she had arrived at the 218 Project Beth felt she had lost everything to addiction – she had no home, no contact with her family and no self-confidence.

After she arrived Beth began the group therapies, which evolve and progress over time. The first was Orientation, then Making Changes, Managing Your Offending, Managing Your Emotions and Substance Misuse, each of which can last for several weeks and it is possible to repeat any module if she felt it necessary.  Along with the group work the 218 provided her with long needed medical attention, such as dentist visits. They also helped her with her housing situation so now, when she leaves, she has a place in supported accommodation organised for the following 6 months.

Achieving graded exposure has been Beth’s peak moment in the 218. Graded exposure is when you are allowed go out on your own for the first time, first for a coffee, but the unsupervised time and activities gradually expand each subsequent week. Since then she has been allowed to attend the YWCA as well as meet her care manager alone. The feeling of being trusted by the staff gave her confidence, but she has renewed self-belief and hope through the graded exposure as Beth now knows she can be out and not use substances or offend in anyway.

  • Case Study 3

218 has been a life saver:

Carol was referred to the 218 Project while on remand for a shoplifting charge in Cornton Vale. For Carol, arriving at the 218 was a release as she knew it was ‘an opportunity’ and she was eager to engage in the group work right away. The group work has helped Carol and she finds she has begun to put a lot of things in place, helping her clarify and understand some of the root causes of her offending and substance misuse, what Carol describes as the self-destruction that has been ongoing in her life.

The days at the 218 are busy and structured. There are a number of group therapies that the residents must attend during the day, but there are also a plethora of activities, such as theatre visits, walks, jewellery making, exercise,  go-karting and bingo, to name a few. However, Carol was reluctant to be involved in any of the group activities apart from those therapeutic ones. She was nervous of the larger groups and tended to isolate herself in her room at first. Noticing this, her key worker focused on this issue, addressing Carole’s anxieties and building up her self-esteem. Thanks to this encouragement and support Carol now joins in all of the activities available.

In her time as a resident at the 218 Carol has found the changes remarkable, she has become more confident and positive about her future. Carol described the 218 as a ‘life saver’.

*All names have been changed

Find about more about the 218 Service here