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CRISIS IN SCOTLAND

NCJ Number
50788
Journal
Howard Journal of Penology and Crime Prevention Volume: 17 Issue: 1 Dated: (1978) Pages: 32-40
Author(s)
G MOORE
Date Published
1978
Length
9 pages
Annotation
THE DECLINING USE OF PROBATION IN SCOTLAND IS EXPLORED IN LIGHT OF THE HIGH PROPORTIONAL PRISON POPULATION AND THE SUBSTITUTION OF SOCIAL WORK FOR THE PROBATION SERVICE (BY STATUTE IN 1968).
Abstract
SCOTLAND HAS THE PROPORTIONATELY HIGHEST PRISON POPULATION IN EUROPE. DATA FROM A 1975 PRISON REPORT INDICATE THAT THE REVOLVING DOOR SYNDROME OF REMANDS AND FINE DEFAULT CASES PRESENTS A MAJOR PROBLEM FOR THE PRISON SYSTEM, EVEN THOUGH 75 PERCENT OF THE AVERAGE DAILY PRISON POPULATION IS MADE UP OF MALES SENTENCED WITHOUT THE OPTION OF A FINE. FINE DEFAULTERS CONSTITUTE A SUBSTANTIAL SEGMENT OF THOSE WHO ENTER SCOTTISH PRISONS. WITHIN THE GROUP RECEIVED INTO PRISON FOLLOWING CONVICTION, EMPHASIS IS PLACED ON THOSE WHO MAY BE DEALT WITH OUTSIDE THE CUSTODIAL SYSTEM; E.G., THE PROPERTY OFFENDERS (THE MAJORITY) AS OPPOSED TO THE FEW CONVICTED OF OFFENSES AGAINST PERSONS. THE REVOLVING DOOR SYNDROME, REPEATED OVER AGE GROUPS, SEX OFFENSE TYPES, AND TIME DEMONSTRATES THAT THE PRISON SYSTEM IN SCOTLAND IS NOT ACTUALLY A TREATMENT APPROACH, BUT IS DISRUPTIVE AND ALMOST CERTAINLY COUNTERPRODUCTIVE. IN 1968, AFTERCARE WAS INCORPORATED IN SOCIAL WORK AGENCIES, AND THE PROBATION SERVICE AS A DISTINCT ENTITY WAS ELIMINATED. RESPONSIBILITY FOR PROBATION ORDERS, SERVICE TO THE COURTS, AND VOLUNTARY AFTERCARE WAS VESTED IN THE SOCIAL WORK DEPARTMENTS. THIS STEP ALSO ELIMINATED THE ESPRIT DE CORPS OF THE PROBATION SERVICE AND UNDER UTILIZED THE EXPERTISE OF PROBATION OFFICERS. DATA FROM SELECTED YEARS SINCE 1964 SHOW THAT THE COURTS ARE USING PROBATION IN A VERY DISCRIMINATORY WAY, WITH AN INCREASING BIAS TOWARD FEMALE OFFENDERS. THE PREPARATION OF REPORTS CREATES PROBLEMS FOR SOCIAL WORKERS (REQUIREMENTS FOR REPORTS BEING SPECIFIED IN THE SOCIAL WORK ACT OF 1968); REPORT WRITING TAKES TIME FROM OTHER PROFESSIONAL TASKS. BECAUSE OF THE WAY PROBATION AND AFTERCARE HAVE BEEN SUBSUMED UNDER THE WELFARE FUNCTION OF SOCIAL WORK DEPARTMENTS, FINANCIAL STATEMENTS OR ESTIMATES FOR THIS WORK ARE GIVEN IN ANNUAL SOCIAL WORK STATISTICS. PROBLEMS STEMMING FROM THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE SOCIAL WORK AND PENAL SYSTEMS ARE SIGNIFICANT. THE ENFORCEMENT OF FINES IMPOSED BY THE COURTS IS INEFFECTIVE; THE USE OF ADULT PROBATION IS DECLINING; AND THERE IS A COMPLETE FAILURE TO DEVISE AND CONSTRUCT ALTERNATIVES TO PRISON. MORE FOCUSED CLIENT-CONTACT METHODS ARE NEEDED, AS WELL AS A FINE-ENFORCEMENT AND COLLECTION SYSTEM. THE ROLE OF SOCIAL WORK IN CRIME PREVENTION LIES IN THE ELIMINATION OF BREEDING GROUNDS FOR CRIME. REFERENCES AND TABULAR DATA ARE INCLUDED. (DEP)