Post-sentence support

Reintegration is a term recognised to apply to children returning to the community following a period of being deprived of their liberty, either in secure care or custody, or going from being subject to an alternative to custody to having no legal order in place (CYCJ, 2020a).

The period immediately following a child leaving 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 before, during and after such transitions (Scottish Government, 2021). Such post-sentence support is often referred to as throughcare (CYCJ, 2020). This is distinct from aftercare for looked after children, although many children will also have entitlements to such support.

Statutory responsibilities of the local authority

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 community-based disposals.

Responsibilities to children 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 children returning to the community from secure care and custody to support their reintegration, promote the child’s wellbeing, uphold their rights and improve outcomes. Such support is crucial as research consistently finds:

Post sentence supports should be tailored to individual need and meeting these needs, 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. This should combine personal support, to help children see the way forward towards a more positive identity and future and the pathways that can help to achieve this, alongside structural support; often including accommodation, education, training and employment, health and substance misuse, involvement of families and financial stability (Hazel et al., 2017) (see CYCJ, 2020 for more information). This will require the involvement of a range of agencies with responsibility for the child’s care and support. Where children are transitioning to other services, such as adult services, the child must have an identified professional contact to take over from the lead professional and all relevant information, including the child’s views, plans, risk assessments, formulations and risk reduction plans must be shared as part of the transition planning (Scottish Government, 2021).

Third sector

Many third sector organisations provide support to children on return to the community. This can include continuing to provide services that commenced while the child was subject to a sentence, as well as throughcare support services for individuals leaving short sentences and not subject to post-release supervision.

Children released on licence

Once released into the community, the child 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 Outcomes and Standards for Social Work Services in the Criminal Justice System and National Objectives for Social Work Services in the Criminal Justice System: Standards - Throughcare.

Licence conditions can be breached either by:

Where breach is identified in cases where a child has been convicted under section 205(2) and 208 Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995, the Scottish Government should be notified by their social worker.

Depending on the breach and level of risk, possible outcomes include:

Child subject to an Order of Lifelong Restriction (OLR)

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