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Probation

Volume 931: debated on Wednesday 11 May 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will place in the Library copies of the probation schemes required in terms of Section 27(3) of the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) if he will publish figures distinguishing by sex, by age groups 16 to 21 years and 21 years and over, and by type of procedure, showing the number of probation orders made in each of the years 1971 to 1976 inclusive which (a) were completed on the normal date, (b) were discharged early on the grounds of good progress, (c) were terminated because of further offence, and (d) were terminated because of a breach of requirement;(2) how many males aged 21 years and over sentenced to periods of imprisonment by sheriff courts of summary procedure in each of the years 1971 to 1976 inclusive were the subject of social inquiry reports before sentence; and how many males aged 21 years and over were sentenced to periods of imprisonment by sheriff courts of summary procedure in each of the years 1971 to 1976, inclusive;(3) how many females aged 21 years and over sentenced to periods of imprisonment by sheriff courts of summary procedure in each of the years 1971 to 1976, inclusive, were the subject of social inquiry reports before sentence; and how many females aged 21 years and over were sentenced to periods of imprisonment by sheriff courts of summary procedure in each of the years 1971 to 1976, inclusive.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) to what he attributes the decline in the use of probation reported in the report Social Work in Scotland, 1974; and what steps he has taken since to investigate and remedy this decline;(2) in view of the comment of the Scottish Council on Crime, paragraph III of its Memorandum 1975 that social inquiry reports were not always of an acceptable standard either in terms of content or of presentation, what steps he has taken to obtain further or more recent evidence as to the views of sentencers concerning the adequacy of reports; and what steps he has taken or intends to take to investigate and remedy this inadequacy.

Various factors may have contributed to the decline in the use of probation by Scottish courts. A document entitled "The Social Worker Reports" was prepared and issued by my Department in 1974 to give evidence on the preparation and presentation of social inquiry reports to courts and other agencies. Several local authorities have taken initiatives to strengthen services provided to the courts in their areas—for example, by the appointment of designated court officers. My Department is undertaking a programme of research on the arrangements made for the supervision and treatment of offenders by local authority social work departments. The Advisory Council on Social Work has recently set up a working group to examine, among other subjects, a number of aspects of probation. In the light of any recommendations which may be made by the Council my right hon. Friend will consider whether any further guidance should be given to local authorities.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) how many probation hostels exist in Scotland, understanding by the term "probation hostel" an institution used in terms of Section 2(6) of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1949 now Section 183(5) and 384(5) of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1975; and what plans there are for the further development of such provision;(2) what applications he received during each of the years 1971 to 1976, inclusive, from (

a) local authorities, and ( b) voluntary organisations for financial assistance in the establishing or running of probation hostels in Scotland;

(3) what encouragement, advice and assistance he gave to ( a) local authorities and ( b) voluntary organisations to establish and run probation hostels in Scotland during each of the years 1971 to 1976 inclusive.

Information is not available centrally on the number of hostels used exclusively or in part for persons on probation. A number of local authorities have plans for the provision of accommodation suitable for offenders, but implementation of these will depend on the availability of resources. Advice has been issued to voluntary organisations on the financial assistance available to them under Section 10 of the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968. My Department receives from time to time inquiries from voluntary organisations about the availability of grants for probation hostels and seeks, where possible, to provide advice and assistance on the development of this type of provision. For various reasons, organisations have experienced difficulties in implementing their proposals, but an application for grant for a probation hostel in Aberdeen was received and approved earlier this year. It is expected that this hostel will be opened shortly.