Rising caseloads warning if Scots rejig parole policy on sex offenders

Plans to change parole arrangements for sex offenders will create
more work for criminal justice social workers in Scotland, it is

The Scottish executive wants to end the system whereby those who
are jailed for less than four years are unconditionally released
after serving half their sentence. Instead, offenders would be
released on licence under social work supervision.

The executive has proposed the changes in a report to the
Sentencing Commission. The changes could be introduced this year.

The report acknowledges that such a move would increase the
workload of Scotland’s social workers by 50 to 75 cases at any one
time. The executive estimates that 25 per cent of offenders
released would be recalled to custody for breach of licence

Alternatively, long-term sentences could be redefined. Offenders
jailed for longer than three years could be classed as such and
lose their automatic right for half-sentence release.

The move comes a week after justice minister Cathy Jamieson asked
local authority chief executives and prison and police chiefs to
audit supervision arrangements for all medium- and high-risk sex
offenders in their areas.

It follows the case of James Campbell, who 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 reoffending.

The agency will inspect North and South Lanarkshire’s criminal
justice social work grouping in September. Council, prison and
police audits will have to be submitted to ministers at the same

Ruth Stark, professional officer at the British Association of
Social Workers Scotland, said the Campbell case had made ministers
“jittery” about monitoring arrangements for convicted sex

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