Social work supervision better than fines or prison

Supervised attendance organised by social workers is more
effective and cheaper than fines or imprisonment, according to the
latest research by the Social Work Research Centre at Stirling

Supervised attendance orders (SAOs) were introduced to all
Scottish courts in the mid 1990s following a successful series of
pilots. They were introduced as an alternative to the high ratio of
fines being imposed by Scottish courts compared with other European
countries, and the high failure to pay rates. Any portion of an
unpaid fine is replaced by a period of activity such as unpaid
work, training or education supervised by social work

The researchers found that SAOs cost on average £733
compared with £837 for the equivalent period of custody for
fine default. In the research sample only 12 per cent of offenders
had their SAOs breached while 85 per cent completed them
successfully. Those who completed their orders were much less
likely to re-offend in the following 12 months than previously.

Justice minister, Jim Wallace, warmly welcomed the
researchers’ conclusions and indicated that he had asked the
criminal justice forum to consider the extension of the use of
supervised attendance as an alternative to prison.




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