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Prison Through-care and Aftercare

 

What is Prison Throughcare and Aftercare?

West Lothian Council is responsible for the supervision of a considerable number of offenders who are in prison (on Throughcare) or who have been released on an Aftercare Licence. Planned changes by the Scottish Government in the arrangements for release of prisoners will mean that the majority of people sentenced to custody will be subject to supervision on release.

There is a range of types of Aftercare Licence; apart from the licences imposed in Scotland, the Throughcare Team manages licences made by courts and Parole authorities elsewhere in the United Kingdom. Some of these orders cannot be transferred to Scotland, and these are managed on behalf of the Probation Service in England, Wales or Northern Ireland.

What is the role of the Criminal Justice Social Work Service with prisoners?

The Throughcare Team takes responsibility for working with prisoners to help them reintegrate into the community. This is done by:

- meeting with offenders during their prison sentences

- helping in the process of sentence-planning (considering what the offender hopes to achieve during the prison sentence to reduce the risk of offending on release)

- keeping contact with the people in the community where the prisoner hopes to live on release

- preparing Parole Reports to help the Parole Board decide on the issue of early release

- writing of other reports, for example to enable decisions on the granting of Home Leaves from prison or on the suitability of an address for an offender to be released on a Home Detention Curfew.

- supervising offenders on a range of Aftercare Licences, including Parole Licences.

- providing a Voluntary Aftercare Service for prisoners serving sentences where statutory supervision is not required; such prisoners will be offered an interview in prison, and the option of continuing contact after release.

In a development which started in late 2009, we now run a Supported Tenancy scheme in conjunction with other local Criminal Justice partner organisations. This provides highly supervised accommodation for a small number of the most serious offenders on our caseload.


Who else is involved in monitoring ex-prisoners?

Some offenders are considered to be at a high risk of re-offending or of causing harm to other people, and these individuals will be subject to Risk Management procedures. The police have a particular responsibility for monitoring registered sex offenders, and staff from council and health services, particularly housing and addictions teams, will usually be involved in regular meetings with Social Workers and police officers.

What are the conditions of a licence?

The person on the licence must:

- report immediately to the local Criminal Justice office;

- be under the supervision of an officer nominated for the purpose;

- keep in touch with the supervising officer in accordance with that officer's instructions;

- inform the supervising officer if the person changes their place of residence, or gains or loses employment;

- be of good behaviour (not be arrested for any further offence) and keep the peace;

- not travel outside the United Kingdom without prior approval of the supervising officer (if placed on licence in Scotland; different arrangements apply to licences or orders made elsewhere in the UK).


Additional conditions may also be imposed. The most common are:

- that the offender resides only in accommodation that is approved by the supervising officer

- that the offender attends alcohol or drug counselling

- a condition banning contact with certain individuals or going to particular places

- that the offender works with an organisation that supports the person in finding work.


What happens if someone does not keep to the conditions of the order or licence?

As this supervision is following a prison sentence, failure to comply without very good reason is likely to be viewed most seriously. The Parole Board could decide that someone should be returned to prison. If the post-sentence supervision was imposed by the court, the supervising Social Worker will be obliged to inform the court of the problems; it is quite possible that someone could be sentenced both for the new offence and for breach of the order.

Here is a list of the different types of aftercare licences that can be used in Scotland. It includes information on planned new types of licence.

It does not include licences made by other legal bodies in the UK. However some are almost identical to licences that can be issued in Scotland.

Life Licence.  Who is it for? Persons sentenced to life imprisonment. The Supervision element can be suspended after 10 years upon application to the Parole Board, who may reinstate it at any time this is considered necessary. Supervised by Criminal Justice Social Work Service.

Parole (discretionary).  Who is it for? Persons sentenced to 4 years or more, who would normally be released at 2/3 of their sentence. Allows for release after serving 1/2 of the sentence in prison, with the agreement of Parole Board. Supervised by the Criminal Justice Social Work Service until the end of the sentence.

Non-parole licence.  Who is it for? Persons sentenced to 4 years or more, who have not been released early, but have been kept in prison until the 2/3 point of their sentence. Continues to end of the sentence. Supervised by Criminal Justice Social Work Service. It is planned that these orders will in the future be used for all prisoners serving over 6 months.

Unsupervised licence.  Who is it for? Another development due to begin soon, for prisoners sentenced to more than 2 weeks and less than 6 months. Continues to end of the sentence.

Extended Sentence.  Who is it for? Imposed by the court at the time of sentence on serious violent offenders given over 4 years custody and sexual offenders with any determinate custodial sentence. Indictment cases only. Can be made for up to ten years (combining the prison-based and community-based parts of the sentence). Supervised by Criminal Justice Social Work Service.

Supervised Release Order.  Who is it for? Can be imposed by the court at the time of sentence on anybody sentenced to one year or more; in practice this is used for violent offenders. Supervised by Criminal Justice Social Work Service.

Orders of Life-long Restriction.  Who is it for? Serious violent offenders and sexual offenders. Requires full report by suitably skilled, trained and accredited Risk Assessor, to assist the court in deciding on use of such an order. Supervised by Criminal Justice Social Work Service and Police.

Short-term Sex Offender Licences.  Who is it for? Supervision of sexual offenders for the post-release part of any sentence of 6 months or over; runs till end of sentence. Supervised by Criminal Justice Social Work Service.

Voluntary Throughcare.   Who is it for? Any prisoner not subject to a supervisory licence upon release from custody (usually those serving less than a four-year sentence) may ask for assistance from the Throughcare Team within 12 months of release. In practice, we try to make contact with all such prisoners before they are released, to advise them of their rights, and to help them make the move back into the community.

For prisoners for whom addictions are a particular problem, their Voluntary Throughcare is managed through the Throughcare Addiction Service (TAS), which formalises links between addictions agencies inside and outside the prison to make the transition into the community as straightforward as possible. Prisoners become involved with the TAS by working during their prison sentence with the Enhanced Addiction Casework Service. This is a service which is available to prisoners serving less than 4 years and over 31 days. There are two groups of people who can access this however short the sentence they are serving: female prisoners; and male prisoners aged under 21 years.

 

 

Updated: 07/09/11