“16 and 17 year olds moving into custody are likely to be particularly troubled, disadvantaged and vulnerable. Failing to meet their needs as they move from the community to custody can lead to a lifetime of offending behaviour”(Scottish Government, 2011, p.29)
On arrival, Scottish Prison Service (SPS) staff should ensure the young person:
- Is met by prison officers who will confirm the young person’s identity; issue a unique prison number; take the young person’s photograph; conduct a search of the young person; determine what property they can retain; and either open a file on the prisoner records system or reactivate this if the young person has been in custody before
- Undergoes an initial screening process to identify immediate concerns: officers will ask questions about the young person’s current situation, how they are feeling and any childcare concerns
- Is given their earliest date of liberation and the qualifying date for release on a Home Detention Curfew, if applicable
- Has their immediate medical needs (including medication and addictions) assessed and addressed by a qualified staff nurse, which will include application of the suicide prevention strategy. Information about the Health Centre will be shared and any necessary basic care plans established
- Is allocated to a residential area and be escorted there by Young Offender Institution (YOI) staff who will share information with staff in that residential area
- Has a cell-sharing risk assessment completed
- Has the First Night in Custody checklist completed which will include the basic routine for that evening
- Is provided with information including about the YOI routine, regime and rules; how complaints and requests can be made; and contact arrangements
The young person may also be allowed to make a telephone call at the expense of the SPS.
Issues that have been highlighted will be recorded and promptly followed up.
Notification of the local authority
For young people aged under 18, the SPS will notify via email the Whole System Approach Lead in the local authority where the young person ordinarily resides that the young person is in custody. The WSA Lead should share this information with the Lead Professional who should:
- Organise the initial custody review meeting
- Ensure information has been shared by the court and provide the Child's Plan on the day of admission
- Any other relevant information should be shared with reference to the principle of proportionality, information sharing protocols, and statutory guidance. This can be via firstname.lastname@example.org which all establishments can access.
A young person’s reception into custody may also be a frightening and concerning time for families.
Resources for this page
- Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014
- Families Outside
- Families Outside: ‘At Court’ information for families when a relative or friend has been sent to prison
- Families Outside: What to Expect when Starting a Prison Sentence Information Sheet
- Integrated Case Management Practice Guidance Manual
- The Prisons and Young Offenders Institutions (Scotland) Rules 2011
- Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice (CYCJ). (2015). Reviews for young people aged under 18 in custody-Information for local authorities. Glasgow: CYCJ.
- Community Justice Authorities (CJAs). (2015). Framework for the support of families affected by the Criminal Justice System. Scotland: CJAs.
- Scottish Government. (2011). Reintegration and Transitions – Guidance for Local Authorities, Community Planning Partnerships and Service Providers. Edinburgh: Scottish Government.
- Weaver, B. and Nolan, D. (2015). Families of Prisoners: A review of the evidence. Glasgow: CYCJ.