Scottish executive plans to change parole arrangements for sex
offenders will create more work for criminal justice social
workers, writes Derren Hayes.
Under current sentencing rules, people convicted of a sexual
offence who receive a sentence of less than four years are given
automatic unconditional release after serving half their sentence.
But the executive wants to end this, so offenders are released on
licence under social work supervision.
The executive has proposed the changes in a report to the
Sentencing Commission. Depending on its response, the changes could
be introduced by the end of the year.
The report acknowledges that such a change would increase the
burden on social workers with them having to manage an estimated
extra 50 to 75 cases at any one time. The executive estimates this
would be an increase of between five and 10 in each prison
population because 25 per cent of offenders released would be
recalled to custody for breach of licence conditions.
An alternative proposal the executive is considering is to
change the definition of long-term sentences, so that offenders
jailed for longer than three years would be classed as such and
lose their automatic right for half sentence release.
The move comes just a week after justice minister Cathy Jamieson
asked local authority chief executives and prison and police chiefs
to carry out an audit of supervision arrangements for all medium
and high risk sex offenders in their areas following the James
Campbell abused a two-year-old girl two months after his release
from prison on an extended sentence for the attempted rape of a
91-year-old woman. A report into the case by the Social Work
Inspection Agency found North Lanarkshire Council had failed to
mitigate the risk of Campbell re-offending.