Courts or the Parole Board for Scotland may place restrictions on a child when they leave secure care. These restrictions can include limits on the child’s movement, contact with others and behaviours for the purpose of managing the risks that a child’s behaviour may pose to others. As with any conditions or sentence, it is important that licence conditions, the responsibilities placed on the child, and the consequences of non-compliance are fully explained to the child. Given the serious consequences of breaching conditions, including the potential return to secure care or custody, it is important to ensure that they understand the explanation provided and this is given in an understandable and age and stage appropriate manner.
Children subject to sentences of less than four years
- Children with sentences of under four years for non-sexual offences or who have not been given a Supervised Release Order (SRO) will be released automatically halfway through their sentence, if not earlier, without supervision. This also applies to extended sentences where the custodial part is less than four years.
- An SRO (under section 209 Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995) can be imposed by the court where a child is given a sentence of one to four years and it is deemed supervision will be needed to protect the public from parts of the child’s behaviour that may pose a risk of harm to others until the end of the sentence.
- Children convicted under sections 205(2) of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 will be released from secure care on licence after serving half of their sentence and will be subject to licence conditions set by the Parole Board prior to their release.
- Where a child has been convicted of sexual offences under Schedule 3 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, children 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 child breaches 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.
Children subject to sentences of four years or more
- Children sentenced to be deprived of their liberty for four years or more (including those subject to extended sentences) qualify to be considered by the Parole Board for Scotland for early release on parole after serving half of their sentence. Parole enables the child to leave secure care and to return to the community on licence under the supervision of a community-based social worker.
- If the Parole Board does not grant parole at the halfway point of their sentence, which is the earliest opportunity for release, the child can continue to be assessed for parole at regular intervals. If they are still in secure care or custody at the two-thirds point of their sentence, they will be released automatically on licence. This applies whether or not an extended sentence has been imposed.
- Where a child 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 child qualifies for consideration by the Parole Board for Scotland for release on life licence when the “punishment” part of their sentence imposed by the court ends and if agreed the child will be released on life licence.
- In exceptional cases, a court may impose a sentence of detention without limit of time under section 208 of the 1995 Act. The same process is followed as detailed above where a child has been convicted of murder under section 205(2) Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995
Parole Board for Scotland
Approximately 16 weeks prior to the child being considered for release, a dossier - including reports from the social work service in the local authority the child intends to reside, the secure care centre or YOI the child has been placed in, and a psychiatrist and/or psychologist, if required - will be compiled and sent to the Parole Board for Scotland. This information supports consideration of and the setting of licence conditions, which will be in place until the child's sentence end date. The child 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 children who have been sentenced to less than four years for sexual offences. The license will expire on the same date as the full sentence.
The Parole Board for Scotland sets the licence conditions for all children sentenced under section 205(2) and 208 Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995. All children sentenced under section 208 are released on licence, which will expire on the same date as the full sentence. Children sentenced under sections 205(2) or 208 to detention without limit of time are released on life licence.
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.
Staff from the secure care centre can contribute to setting the licence conditions based on assessments and interventions undertaken during a child’s stay in secure care.
Resources for this page
- Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995
- The Parole Board (Scotland) Rules 2001
- Navigating the Justice System
- Sexual Offences Act 2003
- Families Outside Information Sheet Parole
- Parole Board for Scotland
- Scottish Government. (2018). Practice guidance: Custody of Children and Young People Convicted on Indictment Under Section 205(2) or Section 208 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995. Edinburgh: Scottish Government.