Criminal justice services

Prison throughcare and aftercare

Throughcare is used to provide services to all prisoners both during and after their sentences. This service can be statutory or voluntary.

Statutory throughcare

During a prison sentence, social workers liaise with other agencies regarding ongoing support to assist prisoners to prepare for release and to help them resettle in the community. The prison based social work team provides reports and assessments to Scottish Prison Service and the Parole Board for Scotland, including recommendations regarding release.

There are a number of different orders and licences:

Supervised Release Order

Any person (other than a sex offender) sentenced to less than 4 years in prison can be ordered by the court to be compulsorily supervised for up to 1 year following release. These orders are used where the court believes supervision will be a requirement after the offender has been released from prison to protect the public from serious harm.

Short Term Sex Offender Licence

Any person convicted of a sexual offence and sentenced to between 6 months and 4 years in custody will be subject to compulsory supervision arrangements from the date of release until the end date of their sentence.

Extended Sentences

Any person sentenced in the High Court for a violent or sexual offence, and in the Sheriff Court for a sexual offence, can be ordered by the court to be under extended supervision following release. The period of extension can be up to 5 years in the Sheriff Court and ten years in the High Court. This is used where the court believes supervision is required to protect the public from serious harm.

Parole Licence

Where a prisoner is sentenced to imprisonment of 4 years or more they become eligible for parole when they complete half their sentence. Release on parole is discretionary and guided by reports from a number of agencies which include prison-based and community-based social workers. If parole is granted, this can be with standard conditions or with additional conditions (imposed by Scottish ministers in consultation with the parole board).

Non-Parole Licence

A prisoner serving more than 4 years and has completed two thirds of their sentence will be released on a non-parole licence. Non-parole licences can be with 'standard conditions' or with additional conditions. 

Life Licence

Scottish ministers are required to release on a life licence a life sentence prisoner on the direction of the parole board. A life prisoner has his case considered by a Tribunal of the Board as soon as possible after the punishment part set by the court has expired. Offenders will only be released on a life licence if it is felt that they no longer pose a threat to public safety.

Order of Lifelong Restriction

This order is made by a Court and provides for the lifelong supervision of high risk violent offenders and sexual offenders. It allows for a greater degree of intensive supervision and risk management plans are approved by the Risk Management Authority. It is designed to ensure that offenders, after having served an adequate period in prison to meet the requirements of punishment, do not present an unacceptable risk to public safety once they are released into the community. The period spent in the community will be an integral part of the sentence, which lasts for the remaining period of the offender's life.

Voluntary throughcare

Individuals can request voluntary throughcare if they will be released not subject to any statutory supervision.The offender and their family are entitled to support from the point of sentence, while they are in prison, and for up to one year after they are released.