The first ever inspection of social work services to sheriff
courts, managed by local authorities, has highlighted a valued
service, but one of inconsistent delivery.
The report by the Social Work Services Inspectorate, ‘Settled in
Court’, examined provision in sheriff courts in Arbroath,
Dumbarton, Hamilton and Glasgow, which is one of the busiest courts
in Europe. While the services were found to be highly valued by
other criminal justice services, the report concluded that certain
action was required to ensure consistency of services.
Local authorities, who manage the service, are recommended to
maximise the number of post-sentence interviews carried out at
court following a remand or custodial sentence identifying those
people who are vulnerable and may be at risk in the prison
environment. The authors also conclude that a better focus of
social work service at courts would go some way towards promoting
the uptake of community rather than custodial disposals.
Overall the report recommends that national protocols be
introduced as well as an agreed national statement as part of a
package of developments which would lead to 100 per cent funding by
the Scottish executive on similar lines to other social work
criminal justice services.