Social Work Advantage of Scottish Model in Delivering Probation Services

The delivery of Criminal Justice in Scotland is quite distinct in the formation of its legal institutions. It is traditionally associated with a welfarest approach as reflected in the establishment of the worldwide renowned Children’s Hearing System (Croall 2006, p587). A legacy, based on the recommendations of the Kilbrandon Report published in 1964. The report is responsible for revolutionising the juvenile justice system by removing offenders under 16yrs from the criminal courts.

The report recommended a lay panel of three members, children’s hearing who would decide what the best course of action should be on the basis of the child’s needs, assessment and treatment was to be based on the ‘paramount welfare of the child’. (Stone 2003) the report identified that a vast majority of the children who offended were let down by parental upbringing and recommended a social re-education implemented towards the children and parents where required.

Kilbrandon called for an integrated service to deliver these needs and recommended that a ‘treatment authority’ would no longer be ‘a small and specialised part of the criminal jurisdiction, but instead…. a small but important part of the system of social service’ (Stone 2003 Quoting Kilbrandon, 1966). This recommendation led to the discussion white paper 1996, Social Work and the community, which significantly led to the integration of the probation service with generic Social Work departments and the legislation of the Social Work Scotland Act, 1968.

This changed the history of how probation was delivered in Scotland; the probation service was to be carried out by criminal justice social workers as opposed to probation officers. The importance of early preventative intervention was emphasized and multi-disciplinary collaboration as effective practice within the criminal justice setting. This also reinforced the idea that Scotland ‘remained committed to a welfare state ethos. (Croall 2006, p590) Despite the political climate at the time which emphasized the importance of more ‘punitive’ approaches towards crime which was popular in England and Wales. (Croall 2006, p589)

The Punitive Approach The juvenile justice system in England and Wales has a ‘punitive approach’ towards child offenders. The Kilbrandon Now Enquiry, 2003 thought it useful to investigate alternative approaches to youth justice during their nvestigation into the effectiveness into the children’s hearing system in Scotland. It found that the ‘punitive approach’ adopted by England and Wales resulted in a ‘high prison population among juveniles and a range of non-custodial punishments that are based on deterrence and containment rather than rehabilitation’ (Paton, L) The report highlighted the cost of the system, not only financial but ‘social and human costs’ (Paton, L) also.

This approach is thought to be influenced by New Labours policy implications and rhetoric which was ‘populist’ and inclined towards ‘punitive managerialism’ (Croall 2006, p 589) The political stance at the time emphasised a tougher approach to crime as seen in the introduction of ‘Antisocial Behaviour Orders (ASBOS), parenting orders, curfews and electronic tagging’(Croall 2006, p589).

An investigation conducted by the Prison Reform Trust in 2008: Punishing disadvantage: a profile of children in custody (Jacobson, Bhardwa, Gynteng, Hunter, Hough 2010) further highlights the ‘punitive approach’ favoured in the England and Wales system. It carried out a review into the information on children in custody in England and Wales from July to December 2008, from the 6,000 child offenders in custody at the time a randomly selected sample of 300 child offenders were taken, the review included a detailed investigation into the backgrounds and circumstances of the 300 children.

The key findings indicated that ‘around half the children were imprisoned for crimes that were non-violent. Just over one-third (35%) were imprisoned for offences that were both less serious and non-violent. No more than about one-fifth of sentenced children were assessed as posing a ‘high’ or ‘very high’ risk of causing serious harm to others’ (Jacobson, Bhardwa, Gynteng, Hunter, Hough 2010) A considerable percentage of the children were imprisoned for breaching community sentences or asbos.

Also notably most of the children who were sentenced to custody were repeat offenders. The decisions to remand the children in custody were due to ‘lack of stable accommodation in the community and substance misuse problems featured in several cases-neither of which falls within the statutory criteria for custodial remand’ A detailed analysis of the 200 children also revealed high levels of disadvantage. The conclusion of the report found that the ‘punitive approach’ was counterproductive in what it was trying to achieve i. . the prevention of offending by children. Also the concentration on needs as opposed to deeds should be considered – ‘the high level of correlation between offending behaviour by children and multiple disadvantage suggests that the prevention of offending depends, at least in part, on effective action to tackle these children’s deep-rooted and complex needs. ’(Jacobson, Bhardwa, Gynteng, Hunter, Hough 2010) Delivery of Service

The contrast in delivery of criminal justice between Scotland and England and Wales is evident. Scotland probation service is orientated towards social work whereas in England and Wales probation is orientated towards ‘law enforcement. ’ Both of the systems share the primary aim to protect the public. It is in Scotland’s National Priorities to ‘reduce unnecessary custody by providing effective community disposals’, secondly to ‘reducing reoffending’, and thirdly to ‘promote social inclusion of offenders. The objectives of England and Wales are justified as ‘punishment and enforcement’ in order to protect the public. Both are committed to ‘evidence based policy, and to a ‘what works’ approach. ’ However the ‘medical model’ that governs England’s thinking focuses too much on ‘personal defects, thinking and social skills’ this does not take into considerations a whole picture of the offender in society and the outside influences that may shape his/her circumstances of which they may have little or no control.

The approach in Scotland is more ‘personalized and holistic’ this is associated with the ‘desistance’ approach. (Croall 2006, p595) Towards effective Practice Criminal justice already has familiar territory with social work if we are to trace back to the beginnings of probation service in Scotland from the beginning ‘probations core identity and purpose from providing supervision as an alternative to punishment. ’ (McNeill 2005).

In fact the CJSW objectives of promoting social welfare, community safety and social inclusion are at the very heart of the Social Work Scotland Act 1968, the underpinning of which can be traced back to the Kilbrandon Report 1964. The department functions as a commitment of protection of the public, personal change through community disposals, alternatives to custody and Throughcare supervision, to work on behalf of victims, reduce re-offending and to produce effective outcomes. Whyte 2010, lecture notes 1, p4) these functions draw from a familiar value and principle base of general social work practice. As Bill Whyte highlights with the ‘ADSW [Association of Directors of Social Work]’ which outlined the values and principles of Social Work practice in the Criminal Justice system represented a ‘shift in emphasis and practice rather than any shift in fundamental social work values’ the values outlined in the ADSW are consistent with the ‘Kilbrandon Philosophy that underpins the 1968 Act.

And emphasis on social education, prevention, multidisciplinary and collaborative intervention’ (Whyte 2007) Whyte also highlights that these values represent a challenge for social workers in practice as they compete and conflict particularly with relation to ‘help and control’ and the emphasis social work plays in community sanctions.

This challenge requires a multidisciplinary approach that has always been valued in social work practice that draws on a ‘body of knowledge, skills and experience’ (Whyte 2007) This multidisciplinary approach is also essential to understanding criminal behaviour and the underlying problems that promote criminal behaviour which is essential to understand in order for effective practice and intervention to succeed. Social work practice may be affiliated with criminology as it has always sought to take into consideration the wider complexities of society that offenders may be susceptible to.

As Bill Whyte reiterates, ‘Social works traditional position from Hallis 1964 onwards has been to respect the capacity of individuals to change, to make decisions that effect external pressures, a person-in their social circumstance capable of choice and responsibility but subject to external influences and pressures’ This recognition of taking into consideration not only the individual behaviour of the offender, but underlying problems that cause the behaviour in the wider context of societal complexities allows for an effective bases for understanding offenders and being able to attribute that knowledge to reduction in reoffending by prevention and control of crime by intervention. As Whyte (Whyte 2007) illustrates the following social factors identified from empirical data and research may and arguably should be taken into consideration when considering factors associated with criminality and practising effective intervention-‘Environment’, ‘Social System’, ‘Criminal Affiliation’, ‘Individual Characteristics. ’

It is recommended that all these factors are taken into consideration in the ‘white paper, social work and ommunity (1966) emphasised the importance of preventative intervention and multidisciplinary collaboration. ’ (Whyte 2007) The levels of crime prevention are broadly recognised as Primary prevention, secondary prevention and tertiary prevention. Primary prevention concentrates on reducing the opportunities for crime. Secondary prevention works on the basis of diversion and community disposals, individual change and potential high risk offenders. Tertiary prevention by reducing/ ending the ‘criminal career’, alternatives to custody and throughcare. (Whyte lect notes 2010) Managerialism A reorganisation in the management of the criminal justice social work departments was introduced from 1989.

Provision for court reports, all community based court proposals such as probation, community service and the supervision of prisoners on following their release and other social work tasks were funded directly by the Scottish Government. This resulted in the National Objectives and Standards (NOS) being introduced with regards to community service in 1989 and for other services in 1991. These National Objectives acted as a bench mark for criminal justice social work, providing targets for effective practice and service. These standards however still recognised that ‘offenders have active choices but these may be influenced by other factors’ (www. scotland. go. k)

The approaches proposed did not restrict the social work departments use of its wider welfare powers to promote social wellbeing but strengthened the structure of how service is delivered as ‘the introduction of managerialism did not supplant welfarism but rather sharpened the focus of effective social work intervention’ (Croall2006, p590) The establishment of Community Justice Authorities (CJA) and a National Advisory Board for Offenders(NAB) followed after concerns form the Scottish Executive in 2004 expressed ‘agencies dealing with offenders were not well co-ordinated, used different risk and need assessment tools and that there was a lack of consistency in the design, quality and delivery of programmes. ’ (Croall2006) The CJA’S had the responsibility for preparing plans, and monitoring performance against them and the social work inspection agency in evaluating performance.

The NOS and CJA’S provided a strategic context for delivering services through the CJSW along with a more integrated approach to offender management between local authorities and the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) (Whyte 2007) The role of Social Worker The role of Social Worker in the delivery of criminal justice may be an advantage in the Scottish system due to the the strong value and principle base it adheres to and has done throughout its history of professionalism. It may be identified with criminology in its attempt to understand criminal behaviour by addressing underlying problems that contribute to offending and reoffending behaviours.

It takes in to account the complexities of factors that be out with control of the offender that contribute to criminal behaviours, this knowledge is invaluable when considering the recommendations of reducing re-offending and upholding public safety. The management of CJSW provides a solid framework for professional practice and allows practitioners to evaluate their progress and success of approaches, challenging them to developed new and innovative approaches to better reach these objectives and best serve the welfare of society. As the CJSW website reiterates a commitment to identify, promote, develope and disseminate good practice and management, based on the best available evidence. ’