Justice social work services in Scottish Borders council

A report into how well community payback orders are implemented and managed in the Scottish Borders Council area has been published by the Care Inspectorate.

In the first inspection of its kind, a team of inspectors looked at how justice social work services in the area were delivering services for individuals who are, or have been, subject to community payback orders.

The inspection took place between November 2018 and January 2019.

Inspectors found individuals subject to community payback orders experienced strong, respectful and consistent relationships with staff.

However, they also noted that the service was not able to demonstrate the difference these relationships were making to improved outcomes.

Inspectors highlighted that a lack of clear outcome priorities or measures meant services were unable to demonstrate what difference they were making to the life chances of individuals subject to a community payback order. This significantly limited their ability to identify and plan for improvements.

Inspectors found the assessment of risks and needs was a particular strength, driven by a national framework and training. Operational managers were supporting their staff well, enabling them to deliver statutory supervision requirements. 

Inspectors also identified areas for improvement in the leadership of justice social work.

They found leaders did not have a sound enough understanding of the performance of the justice service to inform improvement priorities, planning and activity. There was no clear and effective governance structure for justice services.

In addition, the organisation and delivery of the unpaid work service was not operating as effectively as it should in order to provide a reliable community-based disposal.  The local authority will be expected to put in place an improvement plan to address these issues.

Peter Macleod, chief executive of the Care Inspectorate said: “There has been significant change in criminal justice social work over the last decade including the introduction of community payback orders in 2011. 

“Effective community-based sentencing options are essential to the successful implementation of the Scottish Government’s community justice strategy and the extension of the presumption against short sentences. In this context, the Care Inspectorate has decided to focus inspections of justice social work services, at the present time, on how well community payback orders are implemented and managed as well as how effectively services are achieving positive outcomes.

“Today’s report identifies key strengths and areas which need to improve so that Scottish Borders Council can establish effective governance for justice social work and achieve positive outcomes for those subject to community payback orders.”

The report is available here: http://bit.ly/2V7ZBQF.