Supervision, Review and Recall
130. The consultation sought views on the wider parole procedures looking at whether measures should be introduced to regularly and formally, review individuals on parole licence to ensure compliance with conditions - in addition to the supervision that currently existed. The suggestion of an additional review hearing by the Parole Board was mooted in the consultation to assist with compliance and to be carried out in the initial months following release.
Question 13: Is there a requirement for an additional review process (at least initially)?
There were 74 responses to this question, 61 of which expanded on the answer with comments.
"We would support establishing an additional review process, as long as it is easy to implement and does not delay proceedings unnecessarily, and is optional rather than mandatory."
"Supervising authorities have their own review processes which monitor and manage compliance, risk and need so it is not clear what additional benefit Parole Reviews would have. This is particularly in the case of those who have not engaged with the Parole process before (those released on Non-Parole Licence). Any breach or non-compliance of conditions is notified to the Parole Board accordingly."
131. There was a lot of support for introducing an additional review process to check on adherence to licence conditions and avoid unnecessary recalls.
132. There were varying suggestions as to what form a review should take, who should conduct it and when it should take place.
133. Generally, it was felt an additional review should be to support Criminal Justice Social Work in their supervision of a client. Some felt a review should be targeted at high risk individuals only such as life sentence prisoners and those on an Order for Lifelong Restriction. A system similar to that for Community Payback Orders (CPOs) was suggested for individuals whom the Parole Board felt would benefit from an additional review in the early stages of release. It was felt a review would aid compliance and had proved effective with court reviews such as Drug Treatment and Testing Orders and CPOs.
134. Some felt a review should be used to adjust or dismiss licence conditions depending on compliance with them. It was also mentioned that where a licence condition was to be deleted this should not happen without the victim being informed. A review was seen as an opportunity for the person concerned to highlight any concerns with compliance to a particular condition before the situation deteriorated into one of non-compliance.
135. There was some support for introducing a community based face-to-face review process as a possible alternative to recall to custody. Others thought that a review could be a supportive mechanism that helped individuals on their release from prison. It was also thought that any review process should be carefully monitored and evaluated.
136. Resource implications and the need for further training of Parole Board members in terms of any new process was also highlighted.
137. There was also some who thought an additional process was unnecessary and current arrangements for supervision were adequate enough without an additional step.
138. Suggestions for who should carry out a review included Criminal Justice Social Work, the Parole Board, professionals and community representatives, an independent judge and a mixed panel akin to a jury.
139. On timing of a review one suggestion was that it could be quarterly for two years and then every six months thereafter until the end of licence.
Question 13 - Next Steps
The Scottish Government will take the following action:
In the case of anyone on a parole or non-parole licence we consider options for an early review to be carried out 4 - 6 weeks after release on parole licence or within a time period deemed appropriate. This review will provide the opportunity to iron out any problems and ensure compliance with licence conditions is fully understood and being adhered to. Provision will be made to allow for a decision not to carry out a review if it is felt unnecessary or under/within specified circumstances. This aim of such a review is to address the number of people being recalled to custody shortly after release. Before implementing this action the process and timescales for review will be developed in conjunction with Criminal Justice Social Work.
Question 14: In relation to revocation of licence and recall to custody. Do you consider social workers should be able to refer directly to the Parole Board?
There were 83 responses to this question, 61 of which expanded on the answer with comments.
"Speed of recall is the biggest implication. This should be after a review meeting with a panel of social workers rather than an individual - possibly of an external group rather than the local group."
"We believe that much has been done over the last year or so, particularly through the revised throughcare breach process, to improve the speed and immediacy of decision making in this area. Criminal justice social workers report that there are good relationships with the Parole Unit and liaison regarding recall."
140. Based on the responses it is clear there is a lot of confusion about the current arrangements for breach of licence. It appears a number of respondents think that Criminal Justice Social Work refer breach reports directly to the Parole Board already. However, under current arrangements breach reports are referred to the Scottish Government, Community Licence Team, who are completely separate from the Parole Board and its administrative support i.e. Parole Scotland. The Community Licence team is currently responsible for compiling the dossier of information the Parole Board require to decide whether a person should be recalled to custody or not.
141. There was some mention of the revised working arrangements which rolled out across Scotland in September 2018 following a successful pilot study. This originated as an action from the previous consultation Parole Reform in Scotland which has led to changes to the process for reporting a breach of licence and recall to custody. There was some who thought that this revised process was working well and no changes were required. Local authority respondents were particularly positive about these new arrangements. It is to be noted, as reported by the Parole Board itself, that since the introduction of the revised process the time from a breach is identified by social work or police to the recall decision has reduced dramatically from 30 days to around 5 days. The normal turnaround between submission of a breach report to recall decision being around 48 hours or less.
142. There was also some confusion about what happens when a person is recalled. Some thought this meant the person was immediately removed from the community, whereas in reality, a person is reported for a breach by the supervising officer to the Scottish Government; a referral is made to the Parole Board; the Parole Board makes its decision; the warrant is issued to the supervising officer, the police and the prison at the same time; and thereafter the person is traced and returned to custody. Some respondents thought it would be quicker to refer straight to the Parole Board.
Question 14 - Next Steps
The Scottish Government will take the following action:
Arrange information sharing workshops for partner agencies and appropriate individuals, so that the process for breach of licence and recall to custody can be better understood.
The Scottish Government believes that the trust that has built up between the person under supervision and the supervising officer may be lost if there was the ability for them to recall people directly. Clients may not be so forthcoming with information going forward if there was a fear of being recalled to prison. We therefore consider that the current arrangements for breach and recall have progressed significantly and are therefore sufficient for purpose. However, we do consider there would be merit in hosting information workshops so as people better understand the process.
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