Social work in HMP Cornton Vale

HMP YOI Cornton Vale is the national prison for women in Scotland. It houses women from around the country who have been:

  • convicted of a crime
  • placed on remand, which means held in prison until their trial begins

Stirling Council provides a social work service within the prison. The main role of this service, which is known as the Prison-Based Social Work team, is to reduce the risk of reoffending by addressing:

  • prisoners' needs
  • the risks of prisoners committing further crimes

In carrying out this work, our team:

  • examines life events that might have impacted on a prisoner's behaviour
  • uses risk assessment tools to monitor the chance of reoffending

The team also carries out a range of functions to support prisoners and help partner agencies.

How our Prison-Based Social Work team provides support

Statutory support

In some cases, a court will assign a prisoner to our Prison-Based Social Work team at the point of sentencing. For example, a court might ask them to support a prisoner from the outset if it believes they'll need post-release supervision. This might be because the court has imposed a:

  • supervised release order
  • parole licence
  • non-parole licence

When this happens, the Prison-Based Social Work team has a statutory duty to provide the prisoner with support.

The team will also be responsible for producing parole reports about that prisoner. This means they will:

  • work closely with community-based social workers and other prison-based services to gather relevant information
  • produce a detailed report, which includes a risk assessment, about whether the individual is suitable for release

Non-statutory support

The Prison-Based Social Work team can also provide support in cases where a prisoner will not need post-release supervision.

This might involve the team responding to a request from either inside or outside of the prison. For example, they might receive:

  • a self-referral request from a prisoner who wants a social worker
  • a request for social work support from an external agency

In many cases, support will focus on planning a prisoner’s release. This can involve working with external partners so that key actions are taken before the individual returns to the community. These actions might include:

  • making sure suitable support is in place
  • establishing monitoring arrangements

Childcare and child protection issues

If someone raises an issue about the care or protection of a prisoner's child, the team will work with other agencies to address this. They’ll also assess whether it's suitable for a child to live with their mother in Cornton Vale's Mother and Baby Unit.

In cases where a prisoner has committed an offence involving a child, the team will share relevant information with community-based services. They will always work to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children:

  • who visit the prison
  • in the broader community

Behaviour programmes

The Prison-Based Social Work team works in partnership with prison programme staff to deliver offending-related behaviour programmes. These include programmes about:

  • female offending
  • substance-related offending
  • taking steps towards a positive life

Contacts and further information

If you want to find out more about social work services at HMP YOI Cornton Vale, please call us on 01786 835391.

If you want further information on the prison, visit the HMP YOI Cornton Vale page on the Scottish Prison Service site.