Call for Papers: Special Issue - Community Justice in Scotland

Community Justice in Scotland

Scotland is a devolved political jurisdiction within the UK, but has always had separate criminal law and justice arrangements, including, since 2017, an executive agency called Community Justice Scotland.  While official use of the term “community justice” in Scotland is a twenty-first century innovation, practice in the field  is especially distinctive – shaped principally by the 1968 Social Work (Scotland) Act, which created the system of ‘justice social work’ in local authorities (replacing the Scottish probation service). Since then it has diversified to include third sector agencies working with people involved in the criminal justice system, restorative and non-state-centred models of justice, and expanded roles for justice social work in prisons and in post-release supervision. The Act has, relatively, protected Scottish community justice from much of the ‘de-social working’ and the explicitly neo-liberal, punitive-managerialist agenda that has characterised probation policy in England and Wales, although Scotland’s prison population remains in the same ballpark as England and Wales, and is rising.  The Act’s legacy is complex and implicated in a range of practical and political challenges faced by community justice in Scotland – notably a series of reorganisations over the last few decades which have reconfigured the structures around justice social work without solving the deep structural and cultural problems affecting the sector.

This special issue of the British Journal of Community Justice will present a range of perspectives on key issues from or on Scottish community justice research, policy and practice, and we invite contributions from researchers, practitioners and others with experience of Scottish community justice to submit abstracts. We aim to accept and publish up to eight articles – these could include empirical research, theoretical pieces, policy analyses, practitioner papers or reformist opinion papers – as well as a book review section  on Scottish-focused publications.

We especially welcome papers that:

  • Critically analyse National Care Service proposals, and consultation responses, and explore their implications for Scottish community justice;
  • Reflect on the history, practice and impact of Restorative justice in Scotland and its prospects;
  • Explore the structure, practice, opportunities and challenges surrounding ‘community’ justice for young people and young adults;
  • Explore the relationship between community justice and penal practice in relation to specific populations and positionalities, e.g. women, people who use drugs, victims/survivors, immigration status, LGBTQI+, and so on.
  • Discuss the state of play in Justice Social Work services – the possibilities and potentialities, the challenges and concerns;
  • Bring new insights via comparative / international perspectives on Scottish Community Justice;
  • Empirically / theoretically discuss community or civic, user-led alternatives to statutory led measures by focussing on Justice in, by and for the Community;
  • Advance a policy-focused analysis of the historical trajectory and future of justice social work and community justice in Scotland

Please send abstracts or outlines of up to 200 words to us using the email addresses below. Alternatively, get in touch if there is an idea you would like to discuss. Please note that papers should be no longer than 7,000 words (including references but excluding the abstract), though we welcome shorter pieces (approximately 2,000-4,000 words) particularly from practitioners and service users.


  • Abstract submission: 2 April 2024
  • Decisions notified: 13 May 2024
  • Final submission of articles: 30  September 2024
  • Publication: Spring 2025

If you have any questions about the special issue, please feel free to contact any of the guest editors:

Jamie Buchan

Beth Weaver

Mike Nellis

For any other queries about the journal contact:

Kevin Wong Co-Editor of the British Journal of Community Justice