Scottish single correctional agency plan scrapped

The Scottish executive has scrapped its controversial plans for a
single correction service, but still wants the Prison Service,
police and social services to work closer together in tackling
offending, writes Derren Hayes. 

The move not to merge the 32 local authority criminal justice
social work departments with the Prison Service was welcomed by the
social care sector, which had campaigned tirelessly against it
– 95 per cent of respondents to a recent consultation opposed
the plans.

Instead, justice minister Cathy Jamieson last week announced an
overhaul of the current system which will see new regional
authorities co-ordinate criminal justice services, a legislative
obligation for social services and the prison service to work in
partnership, and a greater role for social workers in the
management of sexual offenders.

Ruth Stark, professional officer at the British Association of
Social Work Scotland, said she was relieved the executive decided
against a single agency, but warned more needed to be known about
the new plans.

“This reinforces a key role of social work as working with
offenders,” she explained. “But how you get 32 social
work departments and the Prison Service to work together is going
to be a hard task. I’m pleased with what I’ve seen but
want more information.”

Jamieson said partnership arrangements between the Prison
Service and criminal justice social services weren’t working
effectively and there was too much inconsistency in offender
management services.

The eight informal regional criminal social work groupings will
be replaced with Community Justice Authorities, which will
implement locally the national strategy on offender management
drawn up by a national advisory body.

Other proposals include training 400 police and social workers
in assessing the risk sex offenders’ pose and extra funding
for alcohol and drug treatments to tackle one of the main reasons
behind re-offending.

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