Please note: The following information relates to offenders over the age of 16. For youth offending, please see Youth offending - general information.
When a Sheriff or Judge seeks to know more information about an accused person, they may seek a Criminal Justice Social Worker to write a report. If a person is going to prison for the first time, or the court is seeking to impose a community service or probation order, a Criminal Justice Social Work Report must be required.
Following consideration of the report, either the Judge, Sheriff or Justice of the Peace will impose a sentence the offender to prison, or one of a number of disposals.
A Criminal Justice Social Worker will send a letter to the offender (and potentially other interested parties) to attend an interview. The interview may last between one and two hours. This meeting allows the social worker to identify specific information about an offender:
- Background circumstances (personal and social history), prior to sentencing
- Assessment of previous offences, including response to previous supervision (if applicable)
- Assessment of current offence(s)
- Assessment regarding the risk of re-offending and the potential of causing future harm to others
At the end of the interview, the Social Worker will explain what sentencing options are available to the court. The Criminal Justice Social Worker will write the report, and include their assessment regarding the risk of the offender re-offending and the potential of the offender causing future harm to others and provide an outline of sentencing options.
Following an initial Court appearance, the Court may:
- impose a "Direct Measure", such as divert from prosecution, a fixed Penalty Notice or a Fiscal Work Order
- place the alleged offender on bail supervision
- remand a person in custody whilst court proceedings are on-going.
Find out more about Attending Court.