The Care Inspectorate has published a report following a focussed review of throughcare practice in community justice social work services.

Inspectors looked at the throughcare service provided in the community, which is where individuals are released from prison on licence, or subject to a relevant order, and then breach their order or were subsequently recalled to prison.

The Care Inspectorate undertook the review as part of the Recover, Renew, Transform (RRT) programme established by the Scottish Government.

The review sought to identify potential barriers to reintegration and seek assurance that community justice social work contributions to breach and recall processes were operating as they should.

In the report inspectors said: “Social workers were attentive to providing support and guidance to meet the wider needs of individuals, often using their experience, knowledge and skills to good effect.

"Social workers were alert to their responsibilities in terms of supervising licence conditions and the importance of compliance to reduce risk.

“When it was deemed an individual could no longer be safely managed in the community, the use of breach/recall processes was robust. Where appropriate, individuals were swiftly returned to custody.

“In most instances there was little community justice social work services could have done differently to reduce the likelihood of a breach.”

A key message from individuals with a lived experience of being recalled to prison was the importance of trusting and transparent relationships with supervising social workers who know them. This was viewed as central to supporting a successful reintegration.

Peter McLeod, Chief Executive of the Care Inspectorate, said: “This independent review throws a light on community justice social work throughcare practice, to further understanding of breach and recall processes and reduce the number of people being recalled to custody, where appropriate.

"Our focus was on the contribution of community justice social work. We found a clear commitment to reintegration to deliver intended outcomes for individuals and communities, including victims.

"The management of risk was a significant strength and effective partnership working made an important contribution to public protection.  

"There were key challenges both for individuals and services, such as gaps in giving individuals mental health support. There were also systemic barriers, beyond the control of community justice social work alone, getting in the way of a successful reintegration.

"There was also scope to ensure that staff had improved access to key training and learning opportunities. "We look forward to working with our partners across national and local government and the wider criminal justice system to take forward improvement.”