Edinburgh Local

Who deserves a second chance?

The University of Edinburgh is teaming up with Community Justice Scotland in national campaign.

A chance to pay back, understand, learn, forgive

The University of Edinburgh will be the first University to host the national campaign ‘Second Chancers’, launched by Community Justice Scotland. The campaign aims to challenge and explore perceptions of what justice should look like in 21stcentury Scotland. 

‘Second Chancers’ is centered around the voices of those whose lives have been touched by the justice system. The campaign tells authentic and raw stories of success and failure, change and transformation, obstacles and helping hands through a series of short documentary films and a touring audio exhibition. 

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 reoffending than sentences in the community, but can have additional effects beyond the time spent inside, including homelessness, unemployment and family separation.  

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

Register for your free tickets to panel event

As part of the Second Chancers campaign, Edinburgh Local and Community Justice Scotland have partnered up to facilitate a one-off panel event on 12 March to explore and discuss whether Scotland's justice system is good enough at preventing and reducing offending. 

Members of the public are invited to join Kirstie (a 'Second Chancer'), Karyn McCluskey (Chief Executive, Community Justice Scotland) and Lesley McAra (Chair of Penology, The University of Edinburgh) to discuss and decide.

Book your tickets now


This event is being organised through a partnership between Edinburgh Local and Community Justice Scotland. Please address all inquiries to local@ed.ac.ukor call 0131 651 5000.

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?

Karyn McCluskey, Chief Executive of Community Justice Scotland


Accompanying Exhibition

If you study or work at the University of Edinburgh, also keep an eye out for the accompanying exhibition - https://www.facebook.com/events/242306033339768/- of six Second Chancers' portraits. These will be on show in the central campus area from Monday 4th March until Friday 15th March 2019.


More information

Want to find out more? 

The first three films in the Second Chancers film series, are available to watch at http://secondchancers.tv/stories/

What is community justice? 

Community justice aims to repair harm, address offending behavior 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.


Facts and figures from Community Justice Scotland

  • 13,735 people were sentenced to prison in Scotland between April 2015 and March 2016. 65% of these were for sentences of 6 months or less.
  • 57% of people released from a custodial sentence of six months or less are reconvicted within a year.
  • 39% return to prison within a year of being released.
  • Cost of a prison place £34,961 (SG 2015/16)
  • Currently, 6 in 10 of those given a short prison sentence reoffend within a year compared to 3 in 10 of those given a community sentence.
  • 19,100 Community Payback Orders imposed in 2016/17 
  • Unpaid work is the most common requirement issued as part of wider measures e.g. drug and alcohol rehabilitation, mental health support. 
  • 75-80% of orders included unpaid work 
  • ¾ of those in 2016/17 were delivered in full and continues to rise since introduction of legislation 2010. 

(source: Scot Gov National Statistics, Criminal Justice Social Work Stats - Feb 2018).