This item was published during the term of a previous administration that ended in April 2007
Criminal justice social work
Scotland's Social Work Services Inspectorate today published its report on criminal justice social work in Tayside.
The inspection assessed criminal justice social work services provided by the Tayside Partnership, including reports for the courts, background reports for the parole board, social enquiry reports and community supervision, against effective practice principles and national standards laid down by the Executive.
The Tayside Partnership consists of Angus, Dundee, and Perth and Kinross local authorities.
Findings of the inspectors included:
- The quality of most court reports and reports to the parole board was adequate or better. However, staff writing court reports could do more to probe the circumstances surrounding offending behaviour and risk assessment practice could be improved by more training and by using a standard approach
- Most cases had a plan for supervision which focused on offending and offending related problems. These plans were fully implemented in slightly over four out of ten cases
- Angus had introduced offence-focused group work for the majority of offenders on supervision. The Partnership should build on this progress and introduce more work of this kind
- Most sex offender supervision focused consistently on offending. The Partnership's sex offender project had developed a range of programmes for sex offenders, including those with learning disabilities. Practice in relation to other high-risk offenders was less secure, with greater consistency needed
- There was high level of satisfaction among beneficiaries of the Partnership's community service schemes
- There were insufficient individual community service placements in Dundee and Angus and the range of squad placements in Dundee was too narrow
- Around two thirds of offenders failed to comply with the requirements of probation or throughcare at least once. Staff managed this non-compliance well in just under half of cases.
Inspectors found that overall standards were weakened by the performance of one authority which consistently underperformed the other two in most aspects of practice. The authority is now taking steps to address them.
This report is the fourth in a series of inspections examining the practice of all groupings of local authorities and unitary authorities providing criminal justice social work services across Scotland.
The report focuses on key elements of service provision. These include reports for the courts, background reports for the parole board, social enquiry reports, and the community supervision of those on probation and statutory licence
The inspection fieldwork took place during September and October 2004. Inspectors read a total of 189 social enquiry reports, 23 home background reports and 156 case files and interviewed staff providing services and offenders receiving them.
They visited community service sites, observed staff carrying out supervision, and sought the views of Sheriffs and community service beneficiaries.
The inspection team used a four point scale to assess the quality of reports and practice as evidenced in case records. The scale distinguishes between practice that is 'very good', 'good', 'adequate' and 'poor'. 'Very good' indicates a very high standard that exceeds an acceptable level of competence.
The high standard set, which recognises excellent work in complex cases, means that this point in the scale is awarded comparatively rarely.
'Good' means that work attains an entirely acceptable level of competence.
'Adequate' confirms a general basic competence, but suggests substantial room for improvement.
'Poor' means that work is of an unacceptable standard.