Publication - Advice and guidance

Community Payback Order: practice guidance

Published: 25 Jan 2019

This updated guidance replaces 'National outcomes and standards for social work services in the criminal justice system: community payback order practice guidance' issued in 2010.

Community Payback Order: practice guidance
16. Periodic (Progress) Reviews

16. Periodic (Progress) Reviews

In the Management of Offenders (Scotland) Act 2005 statutory provision was made for discretionary review hearings to take place as part of the management of probation orders. Review hearings have proved to be a useful tool in sentence management and have potential for a positive impact on levels of compliance and possible reduction in the numbers of individuals reported for breach.

The legislation for Community Payback Orders (CPOs) contains provision for courts to carry out discretionary periodic review hearings at any stage during the CPO, known as "progress reviews". This means that an individual may require to appear before the sentencer at a hearing to review progress in fulfilling the requirement(s) imposed. Whilst this may not be practical for those subject only to a level 1 unpaid work or other activity requirement, it could have real benefit for those subject to CPOs of longer duration. The sentencer has an important role in reinforcing the motivation of the individual, recognising good progress when it is made and issuing a warning where lapses in compliance and failures to progress occur.

In circumstances where the Criminal Justice Social Work Report writer is proposing to the court a CPO as a viable sentencing option, the report should consider whether regular progress reviews would assist the successful compliance with/completion of order or achievement of desired outcomes. This should have regard to any low levels of motivation, the complexity of the case or past failures by the individual to comply or co-operate. Progress reviews held by the court could also help inform, or be informed by, internal departmental reviews i.e. 3 months, 6 months and 6 months thereafter.

If the court intends to carry out a progress review, the date of the first such hearing must be contained in the CPO. The responsible officer[15] should submit a report by noon on the day preceding the date of the review to assist the court in carrying out the hearing (see Annex 7). The report should be concise and restricted to a summary of the individual's progress (or lack of progress) since submission of any previous report/review. Where there has been a significant lack of progress in relation to an unpaid work or other activity requirement, as a result of employment, illness etc., a view as to whether the order should be continued, varied, revoked or discharged, and if appropriate a new disposal imposed, should be given. Progress reviews also provide the opportunity where there has been very satisfactory progress on the part of the individual for consideration by the court of early discharge of the CPO.

16.1 Application to Court for Variation or Discharge

Responsible officers and/or individuals subject to a CPO can request one or more changes to the CPO's existing requirements (outwith any existing progress review hearings scheduled). In the event of a responsible officer initiating such a review with the agreement of the individual, it would be sufficient to prepare a short report to the court commenting on progress and the reason for the proposed variation. This must be signed by the individual indicating their agreement. Depending on the court's view, submission of such a document may exempt the responsible officer and individual from appearing in court. This process can apply to a request for an early discharge of a CPO, irrespective of whether the CPO includes an unpaid work or other activity requirement.

Where an individual requests a review independently of the responsible officer, this will require a court appearance from the individual and possibly the responsible officer if the court requires further information.

16.2 Departmental Reviews

Departmental reviews should be arranged, with their frequency being in accordance with the supervision intensity levels as defined previously in section 10 of this guidance. Departmental reviews should also be convened where there have been any significant changes (or new information comes to light) which could necessitate a change in the overall case management plan. All reviews should be informed by a risk assessment. Written information should be compiled in advance of a review outlining the individual's progress or otherwise and should be signed by the responsible officer, the senior member of social work staff, the individual and any other agencies present, on completion of the review or as soon as possible thereafter. A review template, for optional use, is attached in Annex 5 of this guidance.

The individual is expected to be present and take part in the departmental review but, if through unavoidable circumstances this is not possible, a written review can be completed between the responsible officer and the senior social work staff member and agreed with the individual at the next appointment. All records compiled for departmental reviews must be kept on file and referred to as appropriate.

External agencies and other social work departments who are involved with the individual and/or their family, should be invited to such reviews and if not able to attend, give feedback to Justice Social Work staff to be considered as part of the review. If there are child protection issues or issues in relation to vulnerable adults, the responsible officer should endeavour to gain up to date relevant information for the purpose of the review. This must be recorded on the review form, unless it puts third parties at risk.

Further information on the role of the responsible officer and principles of best practice in relation to supervision will be provided in the Justice Social Work Outcomes and Principles.


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