Bail supervision: national guidance

This document provides revised guidance for the operation of bail supervision setting out standards and expectations to support the consistent delivery of the service across Scotland.

2. Establishing bail supervision provision

2.1 Determining the use of bail supervision

Assessment of anticipated demand, as well as general provision e.g. via universal services[13], will inform resource planning when establishing or further developing bail supervision provision in a local area.

Analysis of remand data and the needs of people in local areas will further aid planning and the provision of services. Guidance produced by Community Justice Scotland on Strategic Strengths and Needs Assessments for Bail Support and Supervision may assist with this planning.

Determining the use of bail supervision in your area should take the following into account:

  • Justice social work, in collaboration with partners such as the third sector involved in a case as appropriate, will assess people for suitability for bail supervision based on information received on bail opposed cases provided by COPFS, or as a result of a specific instruction from the court. Based on the information available at the time of the assessment, justice social work should provide a report stating whether - with the support and monitoring afforded by bail supervision and subject to the views of the court – the person can safely be released on bail.
  • Professional judgement by bail supervision staff on where bail supervision would improve outcomes remains key, taking account of the needs and impact on the person and others including victims or alleged victims, children, family, and community members and ensuring compliance with bail supervision is able to be robustly monitored and responded to.

2.2 Roles and responsibilities

The high-level roles and responsibilities of the key partners involved in the operation of bail supervision are outlined belowError! Bookmark not defined.[14].

Police Scotland

  • Receive information from justice social work services on alleged breaches of bail supervision;
  • Investigate and report alleged breaches of bail via the Standard Prosecution Report to COPFS in a timely manner.

Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS)

  • Courts have an administrative role in the operation of bail supervision in terms of dealing with requests for assessments, producing bail orders, progress reporting, and dealing with breach matters.

The judiciary

  • Make decisions as to whether to grant bail to a person accused of an offence or to remand them in custody, and whether to add bail supervision as a further condition of bail in order to support compliance with the standard conditions.

Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS)

  • Provide justice social work services with the bail opposed list;
  • Receive information from Police Scotland on alleged breaches of bail.

Defence agents

  • Where bail is opposed, defence agents may request an assessment for bail supervision prior to their client appearing from custody or while appearing in court. If requested prior to a court appearance, the defence agent may contact justice social work services directly, or during court a request for a bail supervision suitability assessment may be put to the sheriff for consideration as an additional bail condition (special condition).

Justice social work services

  • Undertake assessments for bail supervision and provide reports to the court;
  • Provide a bail supervision service (either directly or via a commissioned third sector organisation) based on local needs and priorities;
  • Raise and/or maintain awareness of the availability of bail supervision amongst the judiciary, COPFS, defence agents, and other relevant partners;
  • Where relevant, provide staff to supervise and support those made subject to bail supervision, including taking necessary action in response to non-compliance;
  • Monitor and encourage the person's engagement with other agencies and other community sentences and orders, and so on.

Third sector services

  • Third sector partners work with partners (e.g. staff in police custody; defence agents; social workers) to help to identify what support people may need in order for a bail application to be successful.
  • Third sector partners may be directly involved in the provision of bail supervision. As part of this role, they will have a responsibility to:
    • Supervise and support those made subject to bail supervision;
    • Support, monitor and encourage the person's engagement with other agencies;
    • Respond to non-compliance – third sector partners will provide evidence to justice social work services in relation to a breach of the terms of bail supervision and/or potential breach of standard or other special bail conditions. Justice social work services have responsibility for reporting this to the police.
  • If not involved in direct provision, third sector partners have a central role in providing other services to those subject to bail supervision, as well as others such as victims and witnesses. These services could include, for example:
    • Emotional and practical support
    • Peer mentoring
    • Drug and alcohol services
    • Physical health services
    • Mental health services
    • Accommodation services
    • Employability, education, and training services;
    • Victim support organisations, in relevant cases

Third sector services may also be well placed to offer continued support beyond the completion of the bail supervision period.

Community Justice Partnerships (CJPs)

  • CJPs will use available data to inform local Strategic Needs and Strengths Assessments (SNSAs) / Community Justice Outcomes Improvement Plans (CJOIPs) on the profile of bail supervision in their area;
  • Where bail supervision is prioritised, CJPs will ensure that the necessary local strategic planning and operational service delivery is adequate to meet the bail supervision and support needs of people in their area;
  • CJPs should collate available bail supervision data as part of ongoing service development.


  • Local area housing services may be involved in the provision of direct access to accommodation to those subject to bail supervision.


  • Health services may be involved in the provision of services to those subject to supervised bail (such as mental and physical health; substance use) and should consider the accessibility of service pathways for people subject to bail supervision and whether these need to be streamlined.

Employability, education and training services

  • Education, employability and training services may be involved in the provision of services to those subject to bail supervision, promoting social inclusion;
  • These services may liaise with bail supervision workers where appropriate, to support joined up service delivery and provide evidence of progress made in this area.

2.3 Electronic monitoring as part of bail - considerations

Where bail is deemed appropriate by the court, electronic monitoring (EM) is an additional way of monitoring bail conditions that can currently be put in place, such as a movement restriction condition.

EM is currently via the existing radio frequency form of monitoring (a box in a curfew location or an 'away from' location; monitoring presence at, or absence from, a place).

EM can provide assurance about the restriction of movement of a monitored person by imposing time and locational limitations on them. Monitoring assists with ensuring a person remains in a specific place for a particular time period (or be excluded from a specific location, at a specified time, including 24-hour exclusions from a location). Compliance with the terms of any condition is monitored by way of the person wearing a personal identification device (PID; commonly referred to as a 'tag'), and the installation of a home monitoring unit.

Monitoring compliance with any electronically monitored curfew conditions imposed is undertaken by the EM service provider, contracted by the Scottish Government to deliver that service. Non-compliance information is then provided to the relevant authority (e.g. Police Scotland) to determine how to deal with it. The EM service provider is a key partner and relies on liaison with, and the co-operation of, partner agencies in the justice system to meet its contractual obligations and to ensure an efficient and effective service is delivered.

EM as part of bail curfews can be tailored to specific conditions (exclusions or related to offending profile such as evenings / weekends). It may also help those subject to EM as part of bail to avoid people and/or places that might be detrimental to them.

EM as part of bail alongside Bail Supervisionisan option where a specific condition may need to be in place (e.g. to stay away from a specific location such as a witness' address) in addition to providing the aims and benefits of bail supervision. These may be imposed together where there may be uncertainty about a person's ability to comply with the EM component without additional support and supervision, and/or where standalone EM as part of bail would leave a specific support need unaddressed.

Specific guidance on the operation of EM as part of bail is forthcoming and should be used in conjunction with this guidance.

2.4 Developing and implementing bail supervision

Below are some guiding themes and questions in order to assist justice social work services and partners in developing and implementing bail supervision in their area.

Determining service criteria / readiness (Section 1.1)

Have you identified service criteria in accordance with local area need and/or service priorities based on local data / a Strategic Needs and Strengths Assessment, including third sector partners at an early stage? This should complement your area's Community Justice Outcomes Improvement Plan.

How will you ascertain if your service is in a state of readiness to implement and operate bail supervision – including the introduction of EM as part of bail?

Engagement with judiciary

Have you engaged with the local judiciary to determine how bail supervision might be used and promoted?

Engagement with people with lived experience

Have you engaged with those with lived experience in considering the setup of the service[15]?

Engagement with partners (Sections 1.3; 2.2)

Have you engaged with partner organisations, including the third sector and other partners such as housing, to identify local needs, capacity, joint training, and potential pathways for delivering services that could form part of a package of bail supervision in your area?

Resources / staffing

What resources and staffing do you have? Will you create a specific bail supervision team, place bail supervision within the remit of existing teams/services, or work with the third sector to provide a bail supervision service on behalf of the local authority?

Are you using the appropriate templates, as per this guidance? (in annexes - e.g. suitability assessment, management plan; progress report; breach report; outcome measure).

Staff training

Will further training for staff be required e.g. to increase their understanding of bail supervision, or other key areas? (such as trauma-informed practice, domestic abuse, child/adult protection, and so on).

Clarifying roles and responsibilities (Section 2.2)

Is there clarity about roles and responsibilities both within the service, and with partner agencies?

Raising awareness

How will you raise awareness of bail supervision? (e.g. consider developing information leaflets for service users, staff, and other stakeholders).

Monitoring (Section 4)

Do you have appropriate bail supervision data collection processes in place?

Measuring outcomes

Do you have an outcome measure by which to evaluate outcomes for the person subject to bail supervision? (Annexes 6; 11)

Evaluating the service

How will you gather the experiences of those subject to bail supervision, those involved in delivery , and local judiciary to inform evaluations / shape service delivery?



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