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National Objectives for Social Work Services in the Criminal Justice System: Standards Social Enquiry Reports and associated Court Services


National Objectives for Social Work Services in the Criminal Justice System: Standards - Social Enquiry Reports and associated Court Services


9.1Local authority managers are responsible for the following tasks associated with providing effective and efficient services.

Monitoring The Standard of Social Enquiry Reports

9.2Local authority managers must make sure that the standard of reports is monitored regularly. Ways of doing this may include:

9.2.1checking the standard of individual reports during supervision;

9.2.2examining samples of reports, for example one in ten reports, reports prepared on particular categories of offender, reports where the sentence was custody;

9.2.3requesting regular feedback from sentencers on the quality of reports;

9.3Local authority managers must ensure that arrangements are in place to monitor the quality of reports prepared on women offenders and other under-represented groups. Such arrangements must be sufficient to monitor both the quality of the information and any review of sentencing options in the reports.

Liaison With The Courts

9.4Managers must agree liaison arrangements with judges and court staff. They must provide for the regular review of issues associated with the effectiveness and efficiency of services. The agenda for liaison must include:-

9.4.1making opportunities to raise day to day issues of mutual interest;

9.4.2providing written information which is updated regularly about the nature and scope of the services which the local authority and its voluntary sector partners make available to the courts;

9.4.3providing information about how these services are performing;

9.4.4providing information about future services and how they are intended to contribute to developing policy and practice.

Making Provision for Court Based Social Work Services

9.5Local authority managers must take the steps necessary to provide an adequate court based social work service. These include the appointment of sufficient, suitably qualified and experienced staff to undertake the tasks and fulfil the legislative requirements to the required standard.

9.6It is for local authority managers to decide how to allocate resources to court based services most cost effectively, basing this allocation on an analysis of the throughput of cases and the likely demand for services across all types of court in their area. Where court boundaries cover more than one authority, the authorities concerned should ensure that there is no duplication of services. This is likely to require one authority entering into a service agreement with another for the provision of services. Whilst every effort should be made to provide the range of services outlined at paragraphs 8.1 to 8.16, it is acknowledged that this may not always be possible in particular instances eg a court-based social worker would not always know that an offender under 18 was appearing at the District Court. Service managers must ensure that potential users of the service including judges, the clerk of court, procurators fiscal and the police are aware of the nature and scope of the service which is available at each court.

Administration and the Use of Qualified Social Workers

9.7Proper administrative support is essential to the effective delivery of court based social work services. Qualified social workers should be used only on tasks requiring their particular knowledge and skills.

Accommodation and Resources

9.8Local authority managers are responsible for negotiating appropriate facilities for the efficient and effective delivery of court-based social work services with the Scottish Courts Service.