Scottish Advisory Panel on Offender Rehabilitation (SAPOR): interim report 2023

Scottish Advisory Panel on Offender Rehabilitation (SAPOR) interim report covers activity undertaken in 2023.

2. Background to SAPOR

The Panel

In 2012, the Scottish Advisory Panel on Offender Rehabilitation (SAPOR) was established, succeeding the Scottish Accreditation Panel for Offender Programmes (SAPOP). While SAPOP was primarily focused on accrediting offender programmes and interventions to ensure they met professional standards, it was evident that a wider advisory role and professional Membership would benefit sponsors and advance evidence-informed practices.

The current primary mission of the Scottish Advisory Panel for Offender Rehabilitation is as follows:

To support desistance by providing approval and advice, setting standards, and promoting excellence in programmes, interventions and processes aimed at rehabilitating people who have offended and by encouraging properly evaluated innovation.

SAPOR's primary emphasis is on programmes and interventions for individuals who have already been convicted of an offence.

While programme accreditation has been a vital component of SAPOR's activities, its broader mission is to support professionals in fostering desistance. SAPOR aims to achieve this by offering approval, guidance, and establishing standards, with the goal of promoting excellence in programmes, interventions, and processes dedicated to rehabilitating individuals with a history of offending. Furthermore, SAPOR is dedicated to encouraging the thorough evaluation of innovative approaches in this field.

With the appointment of a new team comes the opportunity to look afresh strategically at the work of the panel and to take stock of progress to date and opportunities for the future in how we may most effectively contribute to crime reduction in Scotland.

Panel Membership

The Panel aims to achieve a balance of individuals with experience in accreditation, criminal justice social work, academic institutions, psychology, custodial settings, training, and the evaluation of programmes.

The current membership of the Panel include -

Professor Graham Towl – Chair

Rona Fraser – Panel Member

Dr Sarah Lewis – Panel Member

Michelle Gilluley – Panel Member

Professor Erica Bowen – Panel Member

Professor Susan McVie – Panel Member

Mark McSherry – Panel Member

Previous Chairs and Panel Members include -

Professor Fergus McNeill – Chair

Professor Elizabeth Gilchrist – Chair

Dr Trish McCulloch – Panel Member

Dr Beth Weaver – Panel Member

Professor Shadd Maruna – Panel Member

Dr Dawn Fisher – Panel Member

Dr Ioan Durmescu – Panel Member

Monica Wilson – Panel Member

Yvonne Robson – Panel Member

Accredited Programmes

The Panel has taken immense pride in its role in accrediting and endorsing a range of programmes dedicated to offender rehabilitation within Scotland. These accredited programmes have been instrumental in addressing the complex challenge of reducing reoffending rates and fostering desistance among individuals with a history of offending. They represent part of a concerted effort by professionals, organisations, and the justice system to employ evidence-informed practices and standards to effect positive change.

Currently accredited programmes include –

Short Term Intervention Programme (STIP)

The Short-Term Intervention Programme (STIP), developed by the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) is a targeted initiative designed to address the needs of short-term prisoners. This programme encompasses problem-solving, motivation, goal setting, and addresses issues related to offending behaviour and substance misuse.

The Caledonian System

The Caledonian System is a comprehensive approach aimed at addressing instances of domestic abuse perpetrated by men against their female partners or former partners. Its primary objective is to reduce reoffending among men convicted of domestic abuse-related offences and, in doing so, enhance the well-being of women, children, and the men involved.

The Caledonian System is composed of three key components:

  • The Men's Service: This segment involves a multi-year programme, spanning at least two years, encompassing preparatory and motivational sessions, a series of twenty-six groupwork sessions, and ongoing maintenance sessions.

Notably, during the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, a one-to-one version of the Men's Service was developed and has also received accreditation.

  • The Women's Service: Focusing on the safety and support of women who are current or former partners, this component provides safety planning, essential information, advice, and emotional support.
  • The Children's Service: Dedicated to addressing the needs and safeguarding the rights of children whose parents are engaged with the Caledonian System, ensuring their well-being is a central priority.

The Ultimate Self Programme

The Ultimate Self Programme, developed by the Scottish Prison Service, is an offender rehabilitation initiative that caters to the specific responsivity needs of women in custody. This programme is designed to help participants comprehend the nature of their offending behaviour and to equip them with strategies to reduce the risk of reoffending.



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