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SASW brings public safety concerns to MSPs ahead of automatic release of prisoners reform debate

The Scottish Association of Social Work (SASW) has joined a coalition of experts including Howard League Scotland to criticise government proposals to reform rules governing the automatic release of prisoners.

SASW has contributed to a briefing paper for MSPs (Members of the Scottish Parliament) as the Prisoners (Control of Release) (Scotland) Bill approaches Stage 3.

The briefing paper highlights four key areas of concern:

  • Inadequate consultation and evidence gathering
  • Six month supervision period inadequate and likely to jeopardise public safety
  • Increased potential for ECHR challenges
  • Financal implications of the Bill

SASW Professional Officer Tim Parkinson said: “This Bill will not only jeopardise public safety and increases the cost to the public purse, but it leaves men and women leaving prison in a vulnerable position with limited options for support. Some of these options will be the negative influences which contributed to their initial offending.

“Without meaningful professional support and supervision, the stressful impact on children and spouses of returning ex-prisoners will be unmitigated, and an increased risk of domestic violence is another possible consequence.

“At a time when crime and offending statistics over the last five years have been a success story for the Scottish Government it is frustrating to see a Bill which will spend more scarce public money to remove a significant component of what had been contributing to that success.

“Criminal Justice Social Workers will be vulnerable to scapegoating for failures in re-offending statistics, given the impracticably short remaining time afforded for post-release supervision under this Bill.

“We hope MSPs will respond to these alerts and do what is necessary to maintain the progress which has been so hard worked for over recent years.”

Read the briefing paper in full HERE