Criminal justice social work

Criminal justice social work services aim to reduce reoffending, increase social inclusion of offenders and ex-offenders and enhance public protection. Scottish local authorities have a legal duty to provide criminal justice social work services.

Aberdeen City Health and Social Care Partnership is the main provider of criminal justice social work services in the city. We work in partnership with other statutory and voluntary agencies to provide these services. 

Contact with Criminal Justice Social Work Services is normally as a result of report requests, court orders or supervision following release from prison.

Our services

The sections below have more information about the services and support that we provide.

In some circumstances the Procurator Fiscal will decide to divert a case for social work intervention. The person has to agree. If the outcome is positive it is likely that no further action is taken, i.e. that the case will not be heard at court.

The aim is to prevent further offending.

Diversion may be considered in cases involving young or first offenders, for minor offences or where there is no overriding public interest for a prosecution.

See information from the Scottish Government on diversion from prosecution cases

Criminal justice social work reports are requested by the courts to help inform decisions about sentencing. The reports include:

  • background information on the offender.
  • the offender’s attitude to the offence.
  • an assessment of ongoing risk.
  • a review of the likely impact of the available sentences.

Other reports include:

  • Reports on compliance with community based sentences.
  • Breach reports (where the offender has not complied with the requirements of the Order).

We also prepare Home Background / Home Leave Reports for the Parole Board and Scottish Prison Service.

Criminal justice social work court services:

  • provide information to Sheriffs on people appearing before the courts.
  • offer bail information and supervision services to the courts.
  • take referrals for Criminal Justice Social Work Reports and submit completed reports.
  • undertake Stand Down Reports at the courts' request.
  • monitor the quality of reports provided to the courts. 
  • identify vulnerable individuals who appear before the courts and, where necessary, provide relevant information to appropriate agencies such as prisons.
  • liaise with prisons and other agencies in relation to court business.
  • act as a link between the court and local office-based workers.
  • work in partnership with Sheriff Clerks, Procurator Fiscals, legal representatives and other court-based staff. 

The Scottish Government website has more information about court based social work services.  

Community Payback Orders replaced Community Service Orders, Probation Orders and Supervised Attendance Orders. Courts can impose one or more of a range of requirements as part of a Community Payback Order:

  • Unpaid work or other activity
  • Offender supervision programme to address offending behaviour
  • Conduct (where the courts specify the offender to do or not do something)
  • Compensation
  • Mental health treatment
  • Participate in drug treatment
  • Participate in alcohol treatment
  • Residence - to reside at a particular address

There are currently nine requirements which the Court can impose, which will soon increase to ten. A 'restriction' requirement can be imposed following breach of the Order. 

Find out more about Community payback orders on the Scottish Government website

The unpaid work requirement gives the offender the opportunity to repay their local communities for the harm caused by their offending. Unpaid work does not replace paid employment.

Unpaid workers work across Aberdeen, either in small groups or as individual placements. The work is supervised.

Unpaid work can help people to develop and improve their social skills.

The “other activity” component of unpaid work is used in a number of ways, including to promote health improvement or enhance employability. 

The type of work carried out includes:

  • Litter picking
  • Maintaining community walkways, public routes and cycle paths
  • Clearing snow 
  • Community painting projects
  • Environmental projects
  • Gardening
  • Individual placements in public, private and charitable organisations
  • Upgrade and maintenance of local parks and public open spaces

Unpaid work is for the benefit of the local community. We welcome suggestions of community projects suitable for unpaid workers to take part in.

Find out more about unpaid work on the Scottish Government website

Individuals subject to supervision as part of a Community Payback Order are supervised by an allocated social worker and may be offered a range of one-to-one or group work interventions. Work will focus on reducing reoffending through developing strategies to make and sustain long-term positive changes. This will include work specific to individuals’ offending behaviour and other related areas such as life skills, problem-solving, anger management, drug/alcohol use, housing, education, employment, and so on.

Find out more about supervision on the Scottish Government website

Structured deferred sentence and problem solving court

If an offender meets certain criteria their case may be heard by the Problem Solving Court, which can either deal with the case or make the offender subject to a Structured Deferred Sentence (SDS). This offers the opportunity to prove to the court that they can stay out of trouble and co-operate with the criminal justice social work service.

Before receiving a SDS, participants must agree to:

  • Attend appointments and participate in arranged individual sessions, or group work, if appropriate.
  • Attend court for a review prior to sentencing

Structured deferred sentence may be used by the court in cases other than those dealt with by the Problem Solving Court.

Find out more about the Problem Solving Court.

Drug Treatment and Testing Orders (DTTO) are imposed by courts where someone's offending is clearly linked to problem drug misuse. It is different from a Community Payback Order as the focus of a DTTO is to tackle problem drug use to reduce the risk of further offending and harm.

People who are given a DTTO are required to undergo treatment, including drug testing, and attend frequent reviews with the Sheriff.

DTTOs are for 6 months to 3 years. Offenders aged 16 or over who have a serious drug problem may be considered for a DTTO.

Find out more about DTTOs on the Scottish Government website

The Caledonian System is an integrated approach to deal with men's domestic abuse and to improve the lives of women, children and men. It does this by working with men convicted of domestic abuse related offences on a programme to reduce their risk of re-offending, while offering integrated services to the women and children affected by the domestic abuse.

Find out more about the Caledonian System on the Scottish Government website

The Joint Sex Offender Project works with people convicted of sexual offences to help reduce risk of reoffending. The team is managed by Aberdeenshire Council, but also works across the Aberdeen City, Moray and Highland Council areas.

Read the evaluation report on the Moving Forward Making Changes treatment programme for sex offenders

Courts can impose a Restriction of Liberty Order (RLO). This can include the use of electronic monitoring (tagging) equipment to monitor offenders’ compliance with the Order.

A Restriction of Liberty Order requires an offender to be:

  • Restricted to a specific place for a maximum period of 12 hours per day for up to a maximum of 12 months.
  • And/or restricted from a specified place or places for 24 hours a day up to 12 months.

The Criminal Justice Social Work teams carry out assessments for restriction of liberty orders, however we do not supervise these orders. 

See more information about electronic monitoring on the Scottish Government website

Under the Management of Offenders (Scotland) Act 2005 the police, local authorities, the Scottish Prison Service and health authorities (the ‘responsible authorities’) have a duty to establish joint arrangements for the assessment and management of risk posed by certain high-risk offenders. These arrangements are supported by national guidance and procedures.

Other agencies, including Jobcentre Plus, registered social landlords, voluntary organisations and companies providing electronic monitoring of offenders, have to co-operate with the responsible authorities.

Find out more about Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements on the Scottish Government website

Statutory throughcare is provided to prisoners who will be released on:

  • Life licence
  • Parole licence
  • Non-parole licence
  • Extended sentence
  • Supervised Released Order

Find out more about statutory throughcare on the Scottish Government website

People who have been remanded or sentenced to custody can ask for a Throughcare Service from Criminal Justice Social Work. Any person serving less than four years, during sentence or for up to one year after release, can ask the Prison Social Work Unit or Community Criminal Justice Team for help and advice.

Find out more about voluntary throughcare on the Scottish Government website

The Criminal Justice Social Work team.

Contact us


Would you like to give feedback about the new website?