National Care Service evidence paper: justice social work - easy read

This easy read summary provides an overview of social work services provided in the justice system in Scotland. It forms one of a collection of contextual papers about social care and related areas in Scotland.

Justice social work

Justice social work means services that check and look after offenders in the community.

At the same time justice social work makes sure people are safe in the community.


In 2020 there were more than 9 hundred justice social workers.

Staying away from court

Someone who has been accused of breaking the law can be passed to a local social work team or other organisation instead of going to court.

In 2019 this happened to nearly 2 thousand people.

Criminal justice social work reports

From 2019 to 2020 there were more than 28 thousand criminal justice social work reports written.

This is a bit less than from 2014 to 2015.

Social work orders

A community payback order is an alternative to being sent to prison.

It usually means doing unpaid work in the community.

The number of community payback orders went down from 2015 to 2018.

In 2019 the number went up a bit to around 17 thousand.

The numbers of drug treatment and testing orders went down to 5 hundred in 2019.

This number is around the same as in 2015 to 2016.


Throughcare helps people get services that support them during and after being in prison.

In 2019/2020 there were:

  • nearly 2 thousand throughcare cases that must be supervised by a social worker
  • over 2 thousand people asked for throughcare after they left prison



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