Funding warning for Scots parole rejig

A shake-up of Scotland’s parole system will founder unless social work is given more resources, a criminal justice expert has warned.

The Scottish executive plans to scrap automatic unconditional release for prisoners who have served 50 per cent of their sentence.

Offenders will instead serve the community part of their sentence on licence with conditions tailored to individuals’ risk and needs, such as a requirement to attend substance misuse treatment. Breaches of the terms will result in immediate recall to custody.

Criminal justice social work departments will have to monitor more prisoners released on condition into the community. But Roger Houchin, co-director of the Glasgow Centre for the Study of Violence and former governor of Barlinnie prison, said they would be unable to do this without extra resources. If these were not provided, social work would be left in a “hapless situation”.

David Crawford, president of the Association of Directors of Social Work, said: “These proposals will require legislation so we have a bit of time, but they will mean both the number of offenders assessed and supervised by social workers will go up. That will take money and staff and that won’t happen overnight.”

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