Courts, the Parole Board or Scottish Prison Service (SPS) (in the case of Home Detention Curfews) may place restrictions on young people's movements, associations and behaviours for the purpose of managing risk to public safety post-release.
Sentences of detention of less than four years
- Young people with sentences of under four years for non-sexual offences or who have not been given a Supervised Release Order (SRO) will be released halfway through their sentence, if not released earlier, without supervision.
- A SRO (under section 209 Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995) can be imposed by the court where an individual is given a sentence of one to four years and it is deemed supervision will be needed to protect the public from harm post-release until the end of the sentence.
- Young people convicted under sections 205(2) and 208 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 will be released on licence after serving half of their sentence and will be subject to licence conditions set by the Parole Board prior to their release.
- For the committal of sexual offences under Schedule 3 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, young people will be released on licence after serving half of their sentence and will be subject to licence conditions set by the Scottish Government and supervised until the end of their sentence. The Parole Board only becomes involved if the young people breach their licence and are recalled or are seeking re-release following recall.
- Extended sentence (under section 210 Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995) can be imposed by the court to require additional supervision on licence following completion of a period of detention if the court believes a person may pose a risk to the public post-release.
Sentences of detention of four years or more
- Individuals sentenced to be detained for four years or more (including those subject to extended sentences) qualify to be considered by the Parole Board for Scotland for early release or parole after serving half of their sentence. Parole enables release of the person into the community on licence under the supervision of a community-based social worker.
- For those sentenced on or after February 2016, if the Parole Board does not grant parole at the half way point of their sentence, which is the earliest opportunity for release, the individual will continue to be able to be assessed for parole at regular intervals. If they are still in custody with 6 months left on sentence, they will be released automatically on licence. There is an exception to this approach where a person has an extended sentence which means that there is no automatic early release at all i.e. parole is considered from the halfway point onwards of sentence until the end of the custodial sentence.
- For those sentenced prior to February 1 2016, parole is considered from the halfway point of sentence with automatic early release taking place from the two-thirds point of sentence if still in custody at that point. This applies whether or not an extended sentence has been imposed.
- Where a person under 18 has been convicted of murder under section 205(2) Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995, they will be sentenced to be detained "without limit of time". The individual qualifies for consideration by the Parole Board for Scotland for release on life licence when the detainment part of their sentence imposed by the court ends.
Under the Prisoners (Control of Release) (Scotland) Act 2015 release timed to benefit re-integration in certain circumstances, an individual can be released up to two days prior to their scheduled release date. It is important that young people, SPS staff and community based-social work are aware of this provision. The Scottish Prison Service are responsible for considering any such request.
For a young person subject to an Order for Lifelong Restriction (OLR)
Once the punishment part of the sentence has been served the young person becomes eligible for parole. Two years before this, the Case Manager in the YOI should begin to work jointly with social work staff in the community to make plans for possible release. The level of planning will be determined by the level of assessed risk; it could be a long time before the person is actually released, and in some cases the person may spend their whole life in custody. The difference for those subject to OLRs in respect of parole is the young person can be kept in YOI (until the age of 21) or prison until the Parole Board believe that the risk they pose can be managed in the community.
Parole Board for Scotland
Approximately 16 weeks prior to the young person being considered for release, a dossier - including reports from the social work service in the local authority the young person intends to reside - will be compiled and sent to the Parole Board for Scotland. This dossier supports consideration of and the setting of licence conditions, which will be in place until the young person's sentence end date. The young person will be provided with a copy of the dossier and given the opportunity to make written representations to the Parole Board on its contents.
The Children and Young Person's (CYP) Placement Manager acting on behalf of Scottish Ministers will set the licence conditions for release for those who have been sentenced to less than four years for sexual offences.
The Parole Board for Scotland sets the licence conditions for young people convicted under section 205(2) and 208 Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995, sentenced to less than four years, and all individuals sentenced to four years or more.
The licence has conditions which make clear what the person must do (for more information see National Objectives for Social Work Services in the Criminal Justice System: Standards - Throughcare).
A person released and returned to the community but still on licence or under supervision is supervised by a social worker from the local authority where they are residing. The licence will expire on the same date as the full sentence.
Home Detention Curfews (HDCs)
- Individuals serving sentences of three months-four years or over four years (who have been granted parole excluding life sentences) can serve up to a quarter of their sentence (for a maximum of six months and minimum of two weeks) at home or another address in the community, subject to conditions and a curfew that will be electronically monitored by a tag.
- The YOI Governor will decide if the person meets the criteria (exclusions apply) and has passed a risk assessment, including of home circumstances. Failure to comply with conditions may result in return to custody.
- HDCs can result in pressure on families both to provide an address and to monitor the young person, as well as potentially placing strain on relationships. The Good Practice Guidance for the Support of Families Affected by Imprisonment suggests that:
- The home risk assessment carried out by the community-based social worker should be conducted by a home visit
- A Child and Family Impact Assessment should be included as part of the applications and support offered to the family as necessary
- Families should receive full information about the process and to whom they can speak should questions or difficulties arise
- It is essential support is provided to young people and their families where subject to a HDC
Resources for this page
- Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003
- Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995
- Families Outside: Home Detention Curfew Information Sheet
- Families Outside: Parole Information Sheet
- Families Outside: Time in Custody Information Sheet
- Parole Board for Scotland
- The Parole Board for Scotland Rules 2001
- Prisoners and Criminal Proceedings (Scotland) Act 1993
- Prisoners (Control of Release) (Scotland) Act 2015
- Sexual Offences Act 2003
- SPS Home Detention Curfew A Prisoners Guide on Release
- Criminal Justice Family Support Network. (2015). Good Practice Guidance for the Support of Families Affected by Imprisonment. Edinburgh: Families Outside.
- CYCJ. (2016). Home Detention Curfews. Glasgow: CYCJ.
- Scottish Government. (2004). National Objectives for Social Work Services in the Criminal Justice System: Standards – Throughcare. Edinburgh: Scottish Government.