The watchdog responsible for inspecting criminal justice social work in Scotland, the Care Inspectorate, today published its first annual report on Serious Incident Reviews.

 Serious Incident Reviews take place when something goes seriously wrong involving an offender on license or supervision. This includes where an offender is suspected of carrying out a criminal offence while on licence which results in death or serious harm to someone else, or where the offender has died or been injured in a way likely to generate significant public concern. 

Where a serious incident occurs, the local authority responsible for managing the offender must notify the Care Inspectorate. Where it is judged that a review of what has gone wrong is needed, the Care Inspectorate scrutinises that review in order to ensure the local authority learns the right lessons.

The first annual review of this scrutiny, covering 2012-13, involves 45 serious incidents, which took place across seventeen of Scotland’s local authorities. The serious incidents include drug overdoses, sexual offences, suicide, culpable homicide and murder.

The report makes six recommendations for local authorities to consider. 

Paul Edie, Chair of the Care Inspectorate, said:

“The Care Inspectorate provides independent scrutiny not just of social care, but criminal justice social work too. Where an offender is on license or supervision, there is intense public interest in how they are supervised and if things go wrong, we – as a watchdog – play an important role.

“Effective community justice social work can and should prevent reoffending and support offenders to live a life free from crime. We monitor and comment on Serious Incident Reviews because, when things do go wrong, it is essential that the right lessons are learned by people across Scotland.

“Our independent scrutiny of serious incidents and how they were handled is essential to driving up quality and improving the public protection. 

“Local authorities supervise many thousands of offenders on license and, although every serious incident is by its very nature concerning, numbers are fortunately low.  

This is the first report on Serious Incident Reviews since new procedures were drawn up last year.

“Over the coming months, I am keen to see further thematic publications from the Care Inspectorate highlighting to the public what we find during our inspection and scrutiny work.”

Dr Robert Peat, Director of Inspection, said:

“Not every serious incident can be prevented, but is it is extremely important to consider whether things might have been done better or differently. We are today making a number of recommendations for local authorities which arise directly from our assessments of Serious Incident Reviews. 

“While there is some excellent practice, there needs to be better working and information sharing between local authorities, and more support for people with substance misuse issues. We are concerned that there is some under-reporting of serious incidents and are actively working with local authorities to ensure all staff understand and follow the latest procedures.”


Notes to editors 

1. The publication can be found here

2. The Scottish Government publishes statistical information on criminal justice social work here