Reintegration is a term recognised to apply to young people returning to the community following a period of detention, either in secure care or custody, or going from being subject to an alternative to custody to having no legal order in place (Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice, 2015).
The period immediately following release from secure care or custody “…has been identified as a window of opportunity during which young people may be committed to giving up offending (Bateman, Hazel and Wright, 2013). The shock of leaving custody, however, if not addressed, might tend to undermine that commitment, thereby reducing the prospects for desistance” (Bateman and Hazel, 2015, p.7). It is essential that the stress, disorientation and trauma this can bring are recognised and appropriate support is provided.
Statutory responsibilities of the local authority
- To provide throughcare services to individuals sentenced to detention of over 4 years or released on licence
- To offer voluntary assistance to others leaving custody in the first 12 months of their release
- As per the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 (section 27) with replacements by Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1990 (section 61)
The responsibilities for social work services are outlined in the National Outcomes and Standards for Social Work Services in the Criminal Justice System.
There is no requirement to provide post-sentence support to individuals who have been sentenced to an alternative to custody.
Responsibilities to young people under the Whole System Approach (WSA)
Local authorities and community planning partners have a responsibility under the WSA to ensure resources are available for all young people under the age of 18 returning to communities from secure care and custody to support their reintegration and reduce the risk of reoffending. Such support is crucial as research consistently finds:
- The chance of support and treatment in secure care/Young Offenders Institution (YOI) being successful is improved by the nature, quality and length of support after release (Tombs, as cited by Scottish Government, 2011)
- Young people who leave establishments without resources, support and coordination between agencies have a higher risk of returning to custody (Griffiths, Daudurand and Murdoch, as cited by Scottish Government, 2011)
- Support is a fundamental part of reintegration and successful reintegration is essential for desistance, which can be defined as “…the long-term abstinence from criminal behaviour among those for whom offending had become a pattern of behaviour” (McNeill et al., 2012: p3; Smith, Dyer and Connelly, 2013)
Post-release supports are an essential part of throughcare. Supports should be tailored to individual need, be detailed in the Child’s Plan, adopt a GIRFEC approach, and reflect the research findings on effective supports as detailed in secure care – transitions. Particular attention should be paid to supporting:
- Family relationships and support
- Employment and training
- Health and mental health
- Substance misuse issues
Many third sector organisations provide support to young people on return to the community. This can include continuing to provide services that commenced while the young person was subject to a sentence.
Young people released on licence
Once released into the community, the young person will be under the supervision of a social worker in the community where they are residing. The responsibilities of social work services and the social worker are as detailed in the National Objectives for Social Work Services in the Criminal Justice System: Standards – Throughcare and National Outcomes and Standards for Social Work Services in the Criminal Justice System.
Licence conditions can be breached either by:
- Failure to comply with licence conditions
- A new offence
Where breach is identified in cases where a young person has been convicted under section 205(2) and 208 Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995, the Scottish Government should be notified by the young person’s social worker.
Depending on the level of risk, possible outcomes include:
- The breach is noted but no further action is taken
- The young person remains in the community but has amendments made to their licence conditions
- The young person is given a warning letter
- The licence can be revoked, meaning the young person can no longer remain in the community and may be detained either in secure care or custody until the end of their sentence.
Young person subject to an Order of Lifelong Restriction
- On release, the individual will be supervised in the community (or hospital setting) for the rest of their lives.
- When the person is in the community, criminal justice social work services act as the Lead Authority and are responsible for preparing the Risk Management Plan; supervising the individual; and forming a Risk Management Team. The plan must be submitted to the Risk Management Authority (RMA) for approval and the Lead Authority must report to the RMA annually and review the plan should circumstances change. Changes to the plan must be submitted to, and approved by the RMA.
- If the individual requires hospital treatment, in the short-term criminal justice social work services will continue to fulfil the above roles. If treatment becomes longer-term, the hospital will take over as the Lead Authority and will be required to undertake the activities outlined above.
- The person will be subject to licence conditions set by the Parole Board as detailed in YOI – release on licence… and above. If recalled, they will remain in prison/secure care until the Parole Board decide that the risk they pose can be managed in the community again.
Resources for this page
- Beyond Youth Custody
- Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003
- Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1990
- Risk Management Authority
- Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968
- Bateman, T. and Hazel, N. (2014). Resettlement of girls and young women: research report. London: Beyond Youth Custody.
- Bateman, T. and Hazel, N. (2015). Custody to Community How young people cope with release: research report. London: Beyond Youth Custody.
- Bateman, T., Hazel, N., and Wright, S. (2013). Resettlement of young people leaving custody: lessons from the literature. London: Beyond Youth Custody.
- Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice (CYCJ). (2015). A Guide to Youth Justice in Scotland: Reintegration and Transitions: Youth justice practice at the interface of the Children’s Hearings System and the Criminal Justice System. Glasgow: CYCJ.
- Jamieson, J., McIvor, G., and Murray, C. (1999). ‘Understanding offending among young people’: Social Work Research Findings No. 37. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive.
- Malloch, M. (2013). The Elements of Effective Through-care Part 2: Scottish Review. Glasgow: SCCJR.
- McNeill, F., Farrall, S., Lightowler, C., and Maruna, S. (2012). How and why people stop offending: discovering desistance. Glasgow: IRISS.
- McNeill, F. and Weaver, B. (2010). Changing Lives? Desistance Research and Offender Management. SCCJR Report No. 03/2010. Glasgow: SCCJR.
- Sapouna, M., Bisset, C., Conlong, A. and Matthews, B. (2015). What Works to Reduce Reoffending: A Summary of the Evidence. Edinburgh: Scottish Government.
- Scottish Government. (2004). National Objectives for Social Work Services in the Criminal Justice System: Standards – Throughcare. Edinburgh: Scottish Government.
- Scottish Government. (2010). National Outcomes and Standards for Social Work Services in the Criminal Justice System. Edinburgh: Scottish Government.
- Scottish Government. (2011). Reintegration and Transitions – Guidance for Local Authorities, Community Planning Partnerships and Service Providers. Edinburgh: Scottish Government.
- Scottish Government. (2015). Reconviction Rates in Scotland: 2012–13 Offender Cohort. Edinburgh: Scottish Government.
- Smith, S., Dyer, F. and Connelly, G. (2014). Young Men in Custody: A report on the pathways into and out of prison of young men aged 16 and 17. Glasgow: CYCJ.
- Weaver, B. and Nolan, D. (2015). Families of Prisoners: A review of the evidence. Glasgow: CYCJ.
- Wright, D. and Factor, F. (2014). Resettlement of girls and young women: a practitioner’s guide. London: Beyond Youth Custody.