Scottish Advisory Panel on Offender Rehabilitation (SAPOR): overview

SAPOR works to reduce reoffending by providing advice and approval, setting standards and promoting excellence in programmes.

The Scottish Advisory Panel on Offender Rehabilitation (SAPOR) was set up in 2012.

It is sponsored by the Scottish Government, and its purpose is 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.

It replaced the previous Scottish Accreditation Panel for Offender Programmes.  

Its key functions include:

  • advising those developing rehabilitative programmes for individuals in the community and/or a prison environnment
  • accreditation of structured group-based offender programmes

A key priority for SAPOR in 2020 is to develop a third function: to endorse.  This is intended to provide a hallmark of good practice for community justice initiatives and interventions which promote rehabilitation and support desistance but which are not in the form of a programme and so would not be applicable for accreditation.  This function will encourage good practice, allowing it to be recognised and shared more widely within community settings.           

Panel members

Panel members are drawn from both academic and practitioner backgrounds, reflecting the wide interest in offender rehabilitation in Scotland and the international landscape. 

Members are:

Chair: Professor Elizabeth Gilchrist

Professor Elizabeth Gilchrist is the Chair in Psychological Therapies at Edinburgh University and the Programme Director for MSc Psychological Therapies.  Prio to this she was Professor of Psychology at the University of Worcester (having moved from a post as Professor of Forensic Psychology at Glasgow Caledonian University in early 2016) and ex-Chair and ongoing member of the Division of Forensic Psychology-Scotland committee.

A leader in the forensic psychology and criminology field, Professor Gilchrist served 8 years on the Parole Board for England and Wales and 5 years (ongoing) on the Parole Board for Scotland, and has published extensively on the assessment, planning and evaluation of rehabilitative interventions.

An expert on risk assessment tools for domestic abuse, sexual offending and violent offending, she was a member of the Research Advisory Group for the Risk Management Authority and has worked internationally as an advisor on implementation and review of offending behaviour programmes and interventions for the Council of Europe and for the Department of Corrections in New Zealand.

Dr Trish McCulloch

Dr Trish McCulloch is a Senior Lecturer in Criminal Justice Social Work and Social Work Lead in the School of Education & Social Work at University of Dundee.  Dr McCulloch’s teaching and research expertise lies principally in criminal justice social work and sanctions, with a particular interest in participatory, community-based and progressive approaches.

Recent writing and research has focussed on issues of participation, co-production, compliance, desistance and the social and community contexts of change.  Dr McCulloch recently completed a participatory research project which explored the place of co-production in the criminal justice context.  Current research and knowledge exchange activity continues these themes.

She is an active member of various national and international criminal justice and social work forums. She currently holds the following roles:

  • Member of the European Society of Criminoligy working group on community sanctions
  • Chair of the Scottish Heads of Social Work Education Group
  • Co-chair of the Review of Social Work Education
  • Friend of Positive Prison? Positive Futures
  • Chair of a local community charity

In recent years Dr McCulloch has also acted in a consultancy role with the Scottish Government, Dundee City Council, Falkirk City Council and the Open University.

Yvonne Robson

Yvonne Robson has had a 30 year career in Criminal Justice Social Work (CJSW), having held middle and senior management posts in local authorities and the Probation Service in excess of 20 years.  Ms Robson recently retired from her role as CJSW national lead for the Association of Directors of Social Work (now Social Work Scotland), where she provided professional advice to Scottish Government, Scottish Prison Service (SPS), the Risk Management Authority, Conventions Of Scottish Local Authorities, local authority and third sector colleagues on all aspects of risk assessment, risk management and rehabilitation, including Specific Incident Reports, Community Payback Orders and the report from the Commission on Women Offenders.

Dr Beth Weaver

Dr Beth Weaver is a Senior Lecturer and Co-Director of Research in the Department of Social Work and Social Policy, University of Strathclyde.  She specialises in Criminology, Sociology and Criminal Justice Social Work.  Dr Weaver teaches on both the undergraduate and postgraduate courses in social work and also on the LLM/MSc in Criminal Justice and Penal Change in the School of Law as well as supervising post-graduate research. She is also a research consultant to the Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice.

Dr Weaver is actively engaged in a number of research networks, research projects and knowledge exchange activities with specific interests in critical criminology, desistance, gender and criminal justice, the sociology and experiences of punishment, user involvement and co-production and the use of through-the-prison-gate social cooperative structures of employment.  All of her research has an applied focus on penal reform.

Professor Erica Bowen

Professor Erica Bowen is a HCPC Registered Forensic Psychologist, and BPS Chartered Psychologist and Associate Fellow.  She has an MSc Criminological Psychology, and a PhD (2004, Birmingham) for which she evaluated a probation-based domestic violence perpetrator programme.  Professor Bowen has practice experience of conducting risk assessment within open prison and family court contexts, and in 2008 won a competitive tender from the Risk Management Authority Scotland to design and deliver multi-agency training on the legislative and practice context of the Order for Lifelong Restriction.

Since 2004 she has engaged in research and consultancy concerning ‘What works’ in the rehabilitation of domestic violence perpetrators, publishing the first book on the topic located in a British context (The Rehabilitation of Partner-Violent Men) in 2011.

In her varying professional roles, Proffesor Bowen has had considerable experience of working in partnership, in the context of course development, research project development and implementation, and the development and implementation of training and intervention programmes.  In addition, she has experience of providing written and verbal feedback in academic and practice contexts to a range of recipients, including adults in custody, adults being assessed within family court proceedings, and fellow academics at all levels including students.

Michele Gilluley

Michele Gilluley is a Consultant Forensic Psychologist who has worked in a range of forensic settings including prison and secure mental health environments, for 20 years.  Since 2002 she has been departmental head of psychology in these settings and has also been employed in a senior academic role contributing to forensic postgraduate courses since 2013.

Ms Gilluley played a key role in the establishment of the Division of Forensic Psychology (Scotland) in 2006 and has been involved with the Division’s committee in various roles over the last 10 years including as Chair (2013 to 2016) and currently as Past Chair of the DFPS committee.

She graduated with B.A in Social Sciences with Honours in Behavioural Science (University of Paisley); M.Phil in Psychology (Glasgow University), M.Sc. in Forensic Psychology (Glasgow Caledonian University), P.G Cert in Forensic Medical Science (Glasgow University) and is a consultant forensic psychologist, HCPC Registered and Chartered Psychologist and an Associate Fellow of the British Psychology Society.

Current accredited programmes

The Youth Justice Programme 

The Youth Justice Programme (YJP) is aimed at all young people aged 16 to 23 with a history of offending.  The programme was developed by the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) and has been initially delivered with young men in HMYOI Polmont.

The YJP is designed to address underlying reasons for offending, with the overall aim to reduce recidivism by promoting pro-social life choices.  Current accreditation of the YJP runs to September 2021.

Constructs: Steps towards a Positive Life

Constructs: Steps towards a Positive Life is a group-based programme designed for adults and young people (18 to 21 years) of either gender.  The programme targets those convicted of general offending – it does not target violent or sexual offending – with a specific focus on enhancing problem solving skills.  The programme was developed by the Scotish Prison Service and was accredited in March 2017 for a period of five years.

The Discovery: Finding New Me Programme

The Discovery: Finding New Me Programmeis a moderate intensity intervention designed to reduce aggression by those who have problems in the emotional, cognitive or inter-personal domains.  The programme works to assess, formulate and provide strategies to manage each participant’s aggression related needs within the context of an attuned therapeutic group environment.  The programme was developed by SPS and was accredited in December 2017 for a period of five years.

The Caledonian System

The Caledonian System, an integrated approach to address domestic abuse and improve the lives of women, children and men.  This community based intervention comprises a two year programme for adult men who have committed domestic abuse offences and services to women partners/ex-partners and children of programme participants.  Inter-agency protocols for joint working also form a key part of this intervention.  The programme was accredited in December 2017 for a period of five years. 

There are plans to bring forward other programmes for accreditation in the future.



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