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JD Circular No: JD/10/2007 - Criminal Justice Social Work - Serious Incident Reporting

DescriptionA Justice circular in respect of submission of serious incident reports
Official Print Publication Date
Website Publication DateJune 05, 2007

Justice & Communities

Community Justice Services Division

Scottish Executive Justice Circular JD/10 /2007

Chief Executives Scottish Local Authorities

Directors of Social Work/Chief Social Work Officers

Criminal Justice Social Work Managers

Copy: Chief Executive, Social Work Inspection Agency

Chief Officers, Community Justice Authorities

St Andrew's House

Regent Road

Edinburgh EH1 3DG

Telephone: 0131-244 5438

Fax: 0131-244 3548



Your ref:

Our ref:

23 May 2007


Dear Sir/Madam


1. This circular updates existing Circular SEJD 18/2005 issued on 20 December 2005 in respect of submission of Serious Incident Reports

2. The attached annex sets out the purposes of Serious Incident Reports (SIRs), the circumstances determining when an initial SIR requires to be submitted, the format for submission of relevant details in a consistent fashion and the process which the Scottish Executive will undertake on receipt of individual SIRs. I would draw your attention to the statement of the primary purpose of SIRs being to:

"provide information to the Scottish Executive to enable it to respond to events and circumstances in an informed and proportionate manner, both in terms of any immediate considerations arising from the incident and the future development of services and practice to enhance public safety."

3. It should also be noted that the SIR process is intended to complement, and not replace any investigative or reflective actions that the authority itself intends to carry out after a serious incident has taken place.

4. This circular does not affect the existing arrangements for notifying the Parole and Life Sentence Review Division within the Scottish Executive of incidents involving persons subject to statutory licence conditions following release from custody. These are separate to the procedures described in this circular. The circular carries no implications for the statutory notification of deaths of children looked after by authorities.

5. The terms of this circular have been drawn up after consultation with the Association of Directors of Social Work and the Social Work Inspection Agency.

6. Enquiries about any aspect of this circular should be addressed in the first instance to Maurice Williams, Room GWR at the above address, tel. 0131 244 5439, e-mail Maurice.williams@scotland.gsi.gov.uk.

Yours faithfully

Brian Cole


Guidance for local authorities on the submission of Serious Incident Reports to the Scottish Executive Justice Department

1.1 Purpose of Serious Incident Reports

Scottish Executive guidance circular 18/2005 sets out the administrative procedures for the submission of Serious Incident Reports (SIR) to Scottish Ministers. These reports (SIR) provide Scottish Ministers with relevant information about incidents where an offender on supervision may have acted in such a manner as to place members of the public at risk of serious harm. The definition of 'serious harm' is as follows

Harmful behaviour which is life threatening and/or traumatic and from which the victim's recovery, whether physical or psychological, can be expected to be difficult or impossible. That is, sexual and violent behaviours, for example murder, serious assault, rape, all sexual offences against children, all violent robbery, abduction, holding hostage, terrorism and fire-raising (where there was a clear intent to harm persons).

(Adapted from OASys Manual, Home Office 2002)

The primary purpose of the SIR process is to provide information that the Scottish Executive requires to be able to respond to events and circumstances in an informed and proportionate manner, both in terms of any immediate considerations arising from the incident and the future development of services and practice to enhance public safety.

The SIR process is meant to complement, and not replace, any investigative or reflective actions that the authority itself carries out after a serious incident takes place.

This guidance sets out when a serious incident report is warranted and provides an initial report template for use when preparing an SIR. Working in partnership with local authorities, the Scottish Executive will produce further guidance about the more in-depth investigations that may be necessary following the submission of an initial SIR.

1.2 The initial SIR

In the vast majority of cases an initial SIR report will be all that is required to brief the Scottish Executive. The standard format for an initial SIR is appendix one to this document.

An initial SIR may be required for a range of reasons, and whether or not it is appropriate to submit one will depend on the circumstances of each individual case.

An SIR will always be appropriate when the following criteria are met;

· An offender on supervision (or other statutory order) is charged with, or recalled to custody on suspicion of, an offence causing serious harm as defined above.

· An offender on supervision has died, or has been seriously injured, in circumstances likely to generate significant public concern.

· The behaviour or management of the offender has generated adverse local or national media interest or is likely to do so [1].

Other circumstances may be of sufficient gravity to justify a SIR, and the determination of these must be by the exercise of judgment on a case-by-case basis.

Please submit the initial SIR in electronic form within 2 working days of the incident taking place or the date on which you became aware of the incident to Maurice.williams@scotland.gsi.gov.uk using the template provided. Only a senior manager (service manager or higher) should sign-off the SIR. Where the matter is of immediate urgency, you should contact the Community Justice Services Division by telephone (0131 244 5439) as soon as is possible to pass on the details. You should also pass on a copy of the SIR to the Chief Officer of your local Community Justice Authority.

1.3 The process after the submission of an initial SIR

After receiving an initial SIR, the Scottish Executive will consider the reported facts and decide on one of the four options set out below. The Effective Practice Unit within the Community Justice Services Division of the Justice Department will consider the contents of the SIR in the first instance. We will also copy all SIRs to the Social Work Inspection Agency (SWIA) to alert them to the circumstances of the case and any associated practice considerations. Where appropriate we may make available information in the SIR to staff working within the Justice Department's Press Office and to Ministers.

The Justice Department will notify the reporting area within 5 working days about what it intends to do. The four possible options are:

1. To require no further information;

2. To request further information to make the initial SIR more complete;

3. To request a detailed SIR (a report setting out a detailed local investigation of the case and its conclusions/recommendations);

4. Exceptionally, to commission an independent review of the case by government inspectors.

2.1 Full Self Evaluation - The Detailed SIR

In the vast majority of cases an initial SIR will be all that is required. In other cases local agencies or the Scottish Executive may decide that there are important lessons to learn from a case. In such cases a more detailed local inquiry may be warranted. The format and content of these reports will be the subject of separate guidance to be issued at a later date following consultation.

3. An Independent Investigation

Exceptionally, Scottish Ministers may decide after receiving an initial or detailed SIR that further independent investigation is necessary. This does not necessarily infer criticism of the local reporting process, and may in fact indicate that Ministers believe the issues of the case to be of national strategic importance and therefore requiring of a fully independent inquiry. Any proposal for such an independent investigation will clearly set out its terms of reference and expected reporting time.

1. Appendix 1: Scottish Executive - Serious Incident Initial Report Form

Name of Offender

Offender DOB

Name of responsible local authority

Address of offender at time of incident

Briefly describe the incident, including any resultant charges.

Date of Incident

Locus of incident

Brief Description of Incident

Brief description of the offender's relevant history

Has this case / is this incident giving rise to any of the following (tick all that apply);

Media interest (local)

Media interest (national)

Public protests or disorder

Political interest (local)

Political interest (national)

Did the incident involve (Tick all that apply)

Type of Harm



Physical violence likely to result in s erious harm to a child

Sexual violence likely to result in serious harm to a child

Physical violence likely to result in serious harm to an adult

Sexual Violence likely to result in serious harm to an adult


Supervision Characteristics

Type of Supervision (or statutory order) that the offender was on at the time of the incident

No supervision



Life Licence

Probation with conditions



Voluntary supervision



Extended Sentence

Other (e.g. SAO, DTTO)


Commencement Date

Expiry Date

If the order or licence had special restrictions on the offender attached as conditions did the he / she break any of these in order to be able to commit the alleged offence?




If YES please describe the conditions and how they were broken

If the order or licence had conditions requiring the offender to receive specialist treatment did the supervision package provide those interventions?




If NO please describe what the conditions are and why the service did not provide the interventions

How many episodes of offender non-compliance with supervision have there been during the entire course of this order or license?

How many formal written warnings has the offender had over the whole piece?

How many (if any) of these were in the 4 weeks prior to the incident?

Have there been breach report(s) submitted [2]?



If there have been breach reports please indicate the dates of these and any known outcomes in the box opposite

Where relevant has the offender undertaken work to address their offending behaviour?




Please tick the relevant boxes to indicate the methods used to work with this offender.

One-to-one general supervision - not a programme

Non-accredited group programme

Accredited group programme

Programme delivered one-to-one

Offender never presented


Please provide any further comments on interventions offered.

Risk assessment

Risk Type

Tool Name

Date Last Applied


Risk of Reconviction

None used




Very High

Risk of Harm

None used




Very High

Is this a MAPPA case?






Is there a plan for this offender's supervision





Does the plan say what the role of each involved agency is and how often each agency will have face-to-face contact with the offender?

If YES please detail in the box below

In the four weeks prior to the incident was contact by all agencies in keeping with the level set out in the plan?




If NO please detail in the box below

How many face-to-face contacts were there between the supervising officer and the offender in the four-week period prior to the incident? (do not complete for SAO / CS)

Did the offender have contact with other responsible agencies in that period (if so please describe these in the box below) (do not complete for SAO / CS)



Current Whereabouts of the offender (Tick one)

At liberty but not in contact with supervising agencies

At liberty and complying with supervision

Recalled to custody

On Remand (or in Police custody)


Please outline in the box below the local action plan for the handling of the issues reported above.

Name Date


[1] Consider whether the media are currently highlighting this or like cases, or whether factors peculiar to this case are likely to engender controversy.

[2] Or notification to the Parole Board