Community Justice Scotland asks ‘Who deserves a second chance?’

Published on Thursday 11 October 2018

Community Justice Scotland today launched its first national campaign aimed at changing perceptions of what justice should look like in 21st century Scotland.

Second Chancers is centred around the voices of those whose lives have been touched by the justice system. Comprising of a series of short documentary films and a touring audio exhibition, the campaign tells authentic and raw stories of success and failure, change and transformation, obstacles and helping hands.  It paints a warts-and-all picture of what works, what doesn’t and what we should be doing better.

Scotland has one of the highest incarceration rates in Europe.  Scandinavia’s incarceration rate is almost half that of Scotland’s, whilst having a similar crime rate. Short sentences in prison are not only less effective at reducing re-offending than sentences in the community, but can have additional effects beyond the time spent inside, including homelessness, unemployment and family separation.

Community justice aims to repair harm, address offending behaviour and support reintegration back into the community.  Pay back often comprises of unpaid work and underlying issues connected to the crime are addressed through appropriate support – for example, drug and alcohol counselling or mental health treatment. Support with skills training, education, housing and employment may be provided to help the person return to the community able to look after themselves, their family and contribute economically.

Karyn McCluskey, Chief Executive of Community Justice Scotland said: "Scotland has always been a country of inventors, explorers and innovators.  In the fields of science, engineering and technology, we strive for what works rather than what has always been done.  Why would we approach justice any differently?

"We deserve a smart justice system driven by the best evidence of what reduces offending, repairs harm and improves the lives of everyone.  Isn’t that what justice is for?"

The campaign aims to increase awareness of community justice and grow public support for a smart justice system that is evidence-based, innovative and focused on solving people’s problems in the most effective way.

The people sharing their stories include someone from a background of crime; who has made a one-off mistake; who has been a victim of crime; who has battled with addiction and mental health issues; as well as showcasing unpaid work projects which have restored pride to their community.

Some are a million miles away from their past, some are still walking the road to recovery – all demonstrate the importance and effectiveness of recognising and responding to the human and their particular needs.  And all tell the story of people who, through hard work, support and sheer grit, have grabbed a second chance and changed everything.

The first three films in the Second Chancers film series, are available to watch at

The app for Second Chancers, the audio exhibition, can be downloaded in the Play or i-store.  The exhibition will be touring the country and dates and locations will be updated in due course. The audio stories and pictures are available to listen to online at