Responsibilities throughout all children’s time in custody
- The Lead Professional role is fulfilled by the local authority where the child ordinarily resides. This should ensure active involvement of the local authority in the planning for, and maintenance of contact with, the child during their time in custody and improved transition and reintegration back to the community. This continuity of, or introduction, of local community-based support is crucial in supporting the building on maintenance of relationships with children and planning for supports on their return to the community
- The SPS will allocate a Personal Officer who will be a single point of contact for the child during their time in custody and a secondary Personal Officer to fulfil this role in the Personal Officer’s absence. The responsibilities of this role are detailed in the Report of the Scottish Prison Service Organisational Review – Unlocking Potential, Transforming Lives
- Communication, sharing of information and plans between the Lead Professional and Personal Officer should be ongoing throughout the child’s time in custody
Responsibilities for all those supporting the child include:
- Maintaining a high level of contact with the child throughout their time in custody
- Supporting the child to be involved in and influence all discussions, plans and decisions about what they need while in custody and who will help them and how
- Planning with and for the child leaving custody
The Child’s Plan should move with the child and be the basis for planning interventions to achieve the above. The Lead Professional is responsible for maintaining this plan.
For children subject to Compulsory Supervision Orders (CSOs)
The SPS should make the following arrangements for the child:
- On the first morning be told who their Personal Officer is and if possible be introduced
- Within the first 72 hours, complete a core screen interview to identify any immediate needs, including in respect of:
- Benefits and finances
- Family contact and relationships
- Learning and skills
- Physical and mental health, emotional wellbeing and substance misuse
- Behaviours that brought the child into conflict with the law
- The child’s return to the community
- Appropriate referrals will be made for support in respect of identified needs and to promote the child’s outcomes
- All children will be seen by health care staff and advised of what services are available and how to access them (either via self-referral, parents, SPS staff or other agencies)
All children subject to statutory supervision on release will be referred to prison-based social work.
Children undergo induction to their residential hall and one week induction with the Links Centre to inform them of all aspects of the YOI, roles of certain staff and services that they can access to meet their needs and assist their reintegration.
Some YOIs offer a family induction session to give family members an understanding of the YOI’s routine and answer questions. There can however be issues with the consistency and availability of induction. The Good Practice Guidance for the Support of Families Affected by Imprisonment, the Framework for the support of families affected by the Criminal Justice System and Rendering Them Visible: A Review of Progress Towards Increasing Awareness and Support of Prisoners’ Families contains guidance about the content and delivery of family induction sessions.
Initial custody reviews
An initial custody review should be held for all children. The type and timescale for initial custody reviews depends on their legal status:
For children entering custody on remand for over seven days or who have been sentenced: reviews should be held within ten working days of the child entering custody, although within 72 hours remains best practice.
For children and young people on seven day remand: a telephone call should be undertaken with the personal officer ASAP.
For children who are looked after by the local authority: reviews should be held within 72 hours as per good practice guidance.
The purposes of initial custody reviews include:
- Sharing information including on strengths, assets, needs, vulnerabilities and risks
- Supporting the child during this transition period
- Continuity of planning (both for during sentence and return to the community)
- Promoting partnership working
- Engaging young people and their families
Reviews should be:
- Arranged and chaired by the local authority where the child ordinarily resides
- Held in the YOI and in some cases video conferencing can be utilised
- Attended by the child, their family (where appropriate), the Lead Professional/social worker from the child’s home area who knows or has as full information about the child as possible, chair from the local authority, staff from the receiving establishment and any other relevant professionals, including third sector organisations. Personal Officers will attend all Initial Custody Reviews. The number of professionals attending the initial custody review should be limited.
- The SPS should be notified in advance about who will be attending the review
- A Template for Reviews for Young People in Custody has been developed to support the chairing and recording of reviews. Areas for discussion at this meeting include practical arrangements; health and wellbeing; family/personal relationships and contact; structure, routine and opportunities in custody; legal; exit planning, positive supports and protective factors; contingency and planning.
- Reviews should be recorded as per local arrangements and the Child’s Plan updated by the Lead Professional following this. Minutes and the updated Child’s Plan should be shared with the child and relevant others, particularly the personal officer.
Resources for this page
- Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014
- Families Outside What to Expect when Starting a Prison Sentence Information Sheet
- Families Outside Are you worried about a prisoner’s health?
- The Looked After Children (Scotland) Regulations 2009
- Children and Young People’s Centre for Justice (CYCJ). (2019). Reviews for young people aged under 18 in custody. Glasgow: CYCJ.
- CYCJ. (2019). Template for Reviews for Young People in Custody. Glasgow: CYCJ.
- CYCJ. (2017). Health provision for young people aged under 18 in and leaving SPS custody. Glasgow: CYCJ.
- Children and Young People’s Centre for Justice (CYCJ). (2020). A Guide to Youth Justice in Scotland: Reintegration and Transitions. Glasgow: CYCJ.
- Community Justice Authorities (CJAs). (2015). Framework for the support of families affected by the Criminal Justice System. Scotland: CJAs.
- Criminal Justice Family Support Network. (2015). Good Practice Guidance for the Support of Families Affected by Imprisonment. Edinburgh: Families Outside.
- HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland. (2019). Report on an expert review of the provision of mental health services for young people entering and in custody at HMP YOI Polmont. Edinburgh: HMIPS.
- McGillivary, C. (2016). Rendering Them Visible: A Review of Progress Towards Increasing Awareness and Support of Prisoners’ Families. Edinburgh: Families Outside.
- Nolan, D. (2015). Youth Justice: A Study of Local Authority Reintegration and Transitions Practice Across Scotland. Glasgow: CYCJ.
- Scottish Government. (2011). Reintegration and Transitions – Guidance for Local Authorities, Community Planning Partnerships and Service Providers. Edinburgh: Scottish Government.
- Smith, S., Dyer, F. and Connelly, G. (2014). Young Men in Custody: A report on the pathways into and out of prison of young men aged 16 and 17. Glasgow: CYCJ.
- SPS. (2013). Report of the Scottish Prison Service Organisational Review – Unlocking Potential, Transforming Lives. Edinburgh: SPS.
- SPS. (2021). SPS Vision for Young People in Custody. Edinburgh: SPS.