Co-producing Justice : International Social Economy Network Programme Report

Weaver, Beth and Osborne, Stephen and Roy, Michael and Soppitt, Sarah and Docherty, Elizabeth and Morris, Paul and Jackson, Tom and Graham, Pauline and Chappell, Jayne (2019) Co-producing Justice : International Social Economy Network Programme Report. Scottish Universities Insight Institute, Glasgow.

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While the significance of employment to desistance (giving up crime) is well established, there are multifarious obstacles to people with convictions accessing and sustaining work. Social enterprises are businesses that trade for a social purpose, rather than for the enrichment of shareholders or owners. It has been shown that social enterprise and cooperative structures of employment can circumnavigate some of the systemic obstacles to employment, such as criminal records and employer discrimination that people routinely encounter. Yet, one in six people in the UK have a criminal conviction; a large proportion of people are, therefore, affected by the impacts that contact with the justice system has on access to employment and, relatedly, opportunities to move on from offending. The House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee (2016) recognise that employment significantly reduces reoffending and can lead to other outcomes that can reduce reoffending (e.g. financial security and stable accommodation). The Scottish Government (2016) has recently co-produced, with the social enterprise sector, a ten-year Strategy to encourage the further development of the sector and contribute to an overarching ‘inclusive growth’ agenda, demonstrating considerable appetite for an evidence-informed approach for this demographic. Despite this, not only are such structures providing paid work a rarity in the UK justice system, the potential of social enterprises and co-operatives in this context has hardly been explored. Recent research (Roy et al., 2017; Weaver 2016; forthcoming) provides important evidence to suggest their potential to support desistance, recovery and integration; this project sought to build on this by exploring approaches to their implementation, connecting a range of multi-disciplinary international and local experts who can differently contribute towards their realisation. By combining these largely disconnected strands of research, siloed within specific disciplines, our aim has been to advance a more coherent interdisciplinary theorizing and exploration of the interactions, synergies and distinctions in these disciplinary fields and to influence the direction of future research, policy and practice in justice contexts.