The transitions to and from custody are major, often traumatic, life events for children and young people, which in addition to the negative effects this experience in itself can bring, may exacerbate pre-existing vulnerabilities and disadvantage, rendering young people susceptible to a range of (further) negative outcomes on release (Hollingsworth, 2013; Bateman, Hazel and Wright, 2013). However, “the amount and availability of support networks that each young person has is integral to their successful exit from secure care or custody” (Scottish Government, 2011, p.19).
Planning for a child or young person’s exit from custody and reintegration to their community should start at the point of remand/sentence and must include young people and their families.
The length of sentence will determine how, when and who decides that a child or young person can be returned to their community. The date in which a young person is released can be:
- Earliest date of liberation (EDL): automatic release date and applies to children or young people subject to enhanced or standard Integrated Case Management (ICM) – see return to the community for more information
- Parole qualifying date (PQD): becomes live if the Parole Board for Scotland has deemed a person appropriate for release into the community. Generally only applies to enhanced ICM cases – see release on licence and home detention curfews for more information
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. Any service provider working with a child or young person (including the local authority) who believes they can evidence that the child or young person’s EDL is problematic to their reintegration can apply but they need to provide robust reasons and evidence for this. The Scottish Prison Service are responsible for considering any such request. It is important that the child or young person, SPS staff and community based-social work are aware of this provision.
Children and young people are presented to:
- Standard ICM: Case Management Board approximately one to two weeks prior to return to the community or release on a Home Detention Curfew to ensure a plan is in place for the child or young person’s return to the community
- Enhanced ICM: Case Management Board for a statutory pre-release review approximately six weeks prior to liberation to agree post-release supervision arrangements and support
For all children and young people: a pre-release meeting should be held at least ten days prior to liberation. This meeting should be chaired by a representative from the local authority where the child ordinarily resides and include the child or young person, their family (where appropriate), Personal Officer and YOI staff, the Lead Professional and other relevant professionals, including those who will work with the young person on release. It is important that information from this meeting is available to the Case Management Board.
All children or young people should agree a Community Integration Plan (CIP) prior to their release. This will include agreed priorities and identified contacts for community supports upon release.
It is the responsibility of the Lead Professional to ensure post-release community supports as detailed in the Child’s Plan are in place and are coordinated (Scottish Government, 2011).
The research findings on effective post-release plans and support as detailed under secure care – transitions also apply to children or young people leaving custody.
Pre-release preparations may include support from third sector agencies.
Prior to release, the Young Offender Institution all children or young people should:
- Be provided with a health letter and five day supply of non-over the counter medication, with a letter for their GP
- Be signposted to relevant services, including community prescribers
- Have treatment plans sent to continuing care providers
- Be given details of any outstanding appointments
Resources for this page
- Beyond Youth Custody
- Children (Scotland) Act 1995
- Families Outside Time in Custody Information Sheet
- Integrated Case Management Practice Guidance Manual
- Prisoners (Control of Release) (Scotland) Act 2015
- Bateman, T., Hazel, N., and Wright, S. (2013). Resettlement of young people leaving custody: lessons from the literature. London: Beyond Youth Custody.
- Bateman, T. and Hazel, N. (2014). Resettlement of girls and young women: research report. London: Beyond Youth Custody.
- Centre for Youth & Criminal Justice (CYCJ). (2013). National Standards for Youth Justice Provision in Scotland (Appendix 1 to Youth Justice in Scotland: a guide to policy, practice and legislation). Glasgow: CYCJ.
- CYCJ. (2016). Reviews for young people aged under 18 in custody. Glasgow: CYCJ.
- CYCJ. (2016). 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.
- Centre for Youth & Criminal Justice (CYCJ). (2019). >A Guide to Youth Justice in Scotland: Reintegration and Transitions: Youth justice practice at the interface of the Children’s Hearings System and the Criminal Justice System. Glasgow: CYCJ.
- Cochrane, E. (2014). Evaluation of Greenock Prison Throughcare Project. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh.
- Criminal Justice Family Support Network. (2015). Good Practice Guidance for the Support of Families Affected by Imprisonment. Edinburgh: Families Outside.
- Goodfellow, P. and Francis, V. (2016). Custody to community: supporting young people to cope with release: a practitioner’s guide. London: Beyond Youth Custody.
- Hollingsworth, K (2013) Securing responsibility, achieving parity? The legal support for children leaving custody. Legal Studies, 33(1): 22–45
- 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.
- Reid-Howie Associates Ltd. (2017). Evaluation of the SPS Thoroughcare Support Service. Edinburgh: SPS.
- Sapouna, M., Bisset, C., Conlong, A. and Matthews, B. (2015). What Works to Reduce Reoffending: A Summary of the Evidence. Edinburgh: Scottish Government.
- 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.
- Wright, D. and Factor, F. (2014). Resettlement of girls and young women: a practitioner’s guide. London: Beyond Youth Custody.
- Wright, S. and Liddle, M. (2014). Developing trauma informed resettlement for young custody leavers: a practitioners guide. London: Beyond Youth Custody.