Both the Liverpool and Salford Community Justice schemes have been undergoing extensive quantative and qualitative evaluations. It is anticipated that the final reports will be published in May. Community justice makes a key contribution to the Government’s Respect Action Plan, which was published in January 2006. It aims to strengthen the links between the courts, the criminal justice system and the local community so that local people’s confidence in the work of the courts and the wider criminal justice system increases. As the Lord Chancellor said in his written ministerial statement of 27 November 2006, the Government are now establishing 10 further community justice initiatives. The aim of this next phase of community justice work is to provide further learning and best practice so that in the long term the principles of community justice are applied in the courts and the criminal justice system throughout England and Wales.
Figures from November 2006 from the Home Office put the most recent re-offending rate for England and Wales at 57.6 per cent. This is measured for adult offenders over two years following the date of release from prison or sentence to a community order. Since it is less than two years since the launch of both Liverpool and Salford, these figures are not yet available.
The Home Office Criminal Statistics Bulletin 2005 states that, nationally, 8 per cent. of adult defendants fail to appear in the magistrates court. Figures for 2006 are not yet available. Figures for the Community Justice Centre in Liverpool, which opened in September 2005, show that in 2006, 20 per cent. of adult and 15 per cent. of youth offenders failed to attend court. The Liverpool Community Justice Centre has a different caseload, however, to a normal magistrates court and also sits as a Crown court. These figures are not collected at Salford magistrates court.