Young offenders institutions

Pre-release preparations

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:


Young people are presented to:

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.

Post-release plans

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.

Where the young person remains subject to a Compulsory Supervision Order, plans should be reviewed regularly as detailed in the appendix.


Prior to release, the Young Offender Institution Health Centre should:

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