Post-sentence support

Reintegration is a term recognised to apply to children and 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 & Criminal Justice, 2018).

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. Such post-sentence support is often referred to as throughcare (CYCJ, 2018).

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 an alternative to custody.

Responsibilities to children and 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 children and young people under the age of 18 returning to the community from secure care and custody to support their reintegration and reduce the risk of reoffending. Such support is crucial as research consistently finds:

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. This should combine personal support, to help children and young people to 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 in respect of accommodation, education, training and employment, health and substance misuse, involvement of families and financial stability (Hazel et al., 2017) (see CYCJ, 2019 for more information).

Third sector

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 child or young person was subject to a sentence, as well as throughcare support services for individuals leaving short sentences and not subject to post-release supervision, beginning while the individual is preparing for release and continuing in the community.

Scottish Prison Service

The SPS Throughcare Support Service offers voluntary throughcare support to individuals completing short sentences who are not subject to post-release supervision, beginning before release, and continuing in the community.

Children and young people released on licence

Once released into the community, the child or 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:

Where breach is identified in cases where a hild or young person 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 level of risk, possible outcomes include:

Child or young person subject to an Order of Lifelong Restriction (OLR)

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