The transitions to and from custody are major, often traumatic, life events for 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 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 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 young people subject to enhanced or standard Integrated Case Management (ICM) – see liberation 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
Young people are presented to:
- Standard ICM: Case Management Board approximately 1-2 weeks prior to liberation or release on a Home Detention Curfew to ensure a plan is in place for the young person’s return to the community
- Enhanced ICM: Case Management Board for a statutory pre-release review approximately 6 weeks prior to liberation to agree post-release supervision arrangements and support
For all young people: a pre-release meeting should be held at least 10 days prior to liberation. This meeting should be chaired by a representative from the local authority where the child ordinarily resides and include the young person, their family (where appropriate), Personal Officer and YOI staff, the Lead Professional and other relevant professionals, including those who will work the young person on release. It is important that information from this meeting is available to the Case Management Board.
All 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. The Lead Professional must be involved in this planning and receive the CIP when the young person is released, which should be reflected in the Child’s Plan.
The National Standards for Youth Justice Provision in Scotland (Centre for Youth & Criminal Justice, 2013) recommend all young people have a throughcare plan to support them as a “child in need” under the Children (Scotland) Act 1995. The plan should cover a period of at least three months from the day of departure from custody. The plan should be detailed in the Child’s Plan and reviewed after three months.
Research by Nolan (2015) found 77% of responding Scottish local authorities advised this was always the case. Research by Smith, Dyer and Connelly (2014) highlighted young people’s views on the importance of such plans.
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 young people leaving custody.
Pre-release preparations may include support from third sector agencies and Scottish Prison Service (SPS) Throughcare Support Officers (TSOs). TSOs can work with all young people six to eight weeks prior to being released and for up to six to eight weeks after liberation. This will involve liaising with the individual’s identified community supports to provide information about the young person’s time in custody and in some cases, to provide direct support, such as taking young people to appointments and acting as an advocate for them with various partners such as housing and employment.
Prior to release, the Young Offender Institution Health Centre should:
- Make appointments for the young person with community agencies and signpost to relevant services
- Provide the young person with a supply of any necessary non-over the counter medication, a letter for their GP and notification of any outstanding appointments; identify community prescribers; and send treatment plans to continuing care providers
Resources for this page
- Beyond Youth Custody
- Children (Scotland) Act 1995
- Families Outside Time in Custody Information Sheet
- Integrated Case Management Practice Guidance Manual
- 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.
- Centre for Youth & Criminal Justice (CYCJ). (2016). 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.
- 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.