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Criminal Justice impact in 2015-16

Please note that The Robertson Trust has published its new Giving Strategy. This sets out the priorities we will have when awarding funds through our open grants programme. The existing application form and guidelines can still be used until July 31st. In line with our existing procedures, we will aim to assess and present all applications received by this date to our September Board meeting. In the event that we are unable to do so, your application may be held until our November meeting. In such cases a member of staff will contact you and provide any assistance required to realign your application with the new Giving Strategy. Find out all you need to know here.

Please note that this refers to impact and learning from our Partnership Awards (previously Development Awards). These seek to test new ways of working and to build evidence around what works, what doesn't work and why in areas of particular interest to us, as part of our wider Innovation and Learning approach. These awards cannot be applied for through our open application process. Instead, organisations may be invited to apply, or awards may be advertised openly for application, depending on the programme. 


The Robertson Trust’s interest in criminal justice as a funding strand stemmed from the Drug Outcome Research in Scotland (DORIS) Study which was carried out on our behalf by Professor Neil McKeganey at the University of Glasgow. One theme that emerged from this research was the ‘revolving door’ of prison which existed for many serving short-term sentences, many of whom had addiction issues.

Through investing in and sharing our learning from this work we aimed to:

  • develop the evidence-base of the approaches that are most effective in diverting people away from the criminal justice system and other negative outcomes 
  • reduce the impact that offending behaviour has on individuals, families and communities.

What we did >

We have been supporting programmes in this theme for over 10 years. Our two main Portfolio objectives have been to improve throughcare support for people coming out of prison and to improve services for families affected by imprisonment.

We have also supported a significant amount of work alongside the senior management team at Polmont Young Offenders Institution. Learning from these Portfolios has been shared in previous Impact Reports which can be found here.

In March 2016 we held a well-attended criminal justice conference in Glasgow for policy makers and practitioners.  This conference marked a turning point in The Trust’s journey in criminal justice. We recognise that the landscape has changed considerably since we first started supporting projects in this area and more resources are now available for both throughcare and Prison Visitor Centres. From our learning to date we believe that we will have greater impact if we move our focus to support work that is more preventative in its approach.

What is changing as a result of our work? >

In 2015 the Scottish Prison Services appointed 41 Throughcare Support Officers across the prison estate to support people moving out of prison and into the community. In addition to this the Scottish Government has confirmed that it has allocated £1.8m to Prison Visitor Centres across Scotland over the next three years. Our evidence contributed to these decisions and the announcements reflect our learning and key messages we have shared.

What next? >

Over the past year The Trust has undertaken a strategic review and this has led to changes in the way we will work in the future.

The Development Team now has a much broader role across the organisation and has been re-named the Innovation and Learning Team to reflect this change. The team will continue to manage Partnership Awards (previously called Development Awards) with the aim of influencing policy and practice in identified themes. In addition we will improve how we collect and use evidence across all teams within the Trust (including our Open Giving Programme and our Scholarship Programme).

The learning from The Trust’s early investment in projects supporting young people leaving Polmont Young Offenders Institution, alongside external evidence began to highlight some of the issues in young people’s lives which were leading them into offending behaviour. These include: being excluded from school; being care experienced; and suffering from multiple traumatic losses and/or bereavements. As a result The Trust has decided that the first new portfolios of work within our new Strategy will focus on how we prevent young people from entering the criminal justice system.

We are now in the research and development phase for three potential programmes under these portfolios:

  • Looked after young people
  • School-based preventative services
  • Mental health / trauma, loss and bereavement

Download our full Impact Report 2015-16 for case studies and breakdown of impact made in other themes.