Justice social work: inspection of community payback orders 

In our overview report published December 2021, we presented the key findings aggregated across all five inspections.

Between September 2018 and November 2020, we completed five inspections of justice social work services with a particular focus on community payback orders in these areas:

  • Scottish Borders
  • West Dunbartonshire
  • Inverclyde
  • Dumfries and Galloway
  • Aberdeen City.

We produced an inspection guide for this activity. In summary the inspection methodology involved:

  • submission of a self-evaluation by each local authority area
  • review of a representative sample of relevant records of people who were or had been subject to a community payback order
  • interviews with people currently subject to a community payback order
  • focus groups and interviews with members of staff, partner agencies and stakeholders, and senior managers, chief officers, elected members with responsibility for community justice social work
  • verbal feedback to the local authority on findings based on the analysis and evaluation of all aspects of the inspection
  • publication of an inspection report for each participating local authority area that included evidence-based evaluations of key quality indicators using a six-point scale.

Community justice partnerships: supported and validated self-evaluation 

Between 2018 and 2020, we worked in partnership with Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) to support the implementation of the new community justice model through a validated self-evaluation approach. We carried out assurance activities across the following five community justice partnerships, one of which incorporated three local authority areas:

For more information on the supported and validated self-evaluation methodology please refer to our guidance and additional information. In summary our activity included:

  • support and guidance from a strategic inspector for partnership areas to undertake self-evaluation
  • submission of a self-evaluation by the partnership
  • analysis of the submitted documents by the Care Inspectorate/HMICS team
  • follow-up activities with the partnership to explore any areas of uncertainty (these included visits, interviews and focus groups)
  • verbal feedback on the findings to each partnership based on the analysis of all the evidence gathered
  • publication of the validation letter.

Community justice social work: throughcare review 

The Scottish Government established the national criminal justice Recover, Renew, Transform (RRT) programme in response to the ongoing impact of Covid-19 on the justice system in Scotland. One of the tasks of the Recovery of Community Justice and Prevention of Offending sub-group was to explore breach of licence and recall to prison. This was to further understand recall and related processes to reduce the number of people being recalled to custody, where appropriate.

In March 2021, the Care Inspectorate received a request from the sub-group to undertake a focused piece of work relating to breach of licence/recall to custody. The strategic justice team undertook a review of throughcare with a primary focus on community justice social work practice.

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.

As part of the review, we also gathered the views of individuals from across Scotland who had been recalled to prison following a breach of their throughcare licence conditions.

We published a report of our findings in September 2021. The report contains more detail on the methods we used.

Our collaborative work with scrutiny and improvement partners 

We have a long-standing commitment to contribute to inspections of prisons and other institutions led by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons in Scotland (HMIPS). Over the past three years, our contribution has been led by the strategic justice team with support from other strategic colleagues as appropriate. Throughout 2020/2021, we contributed to HMIPS Covid-19 liaison activities through on-site visits and remote contact with community agencies.

Throughout 2021/2022, we will continue to work with scrutiny and justice partners to contribute to the thematic prison review of risk management, progression and early release.  

A separate piece of collaborative work will focus on the extent to which community justice partners are delivering on national priorities relating to early intervention and prevention.