In a briefing sent to MSPs, the union, which represents workers in the social work criminal justice services says that many of the current proposals in
the Executive consultation are based on the idea that sentencing systems
more opportunities for offenders to move away from law-breaking. This means
increasing properly resourced community-based sentences, and increasing the
integration of agencies working in the community.
Stephen Smellie, chair of UnisonScotland's social work issues group said:
'Like the Executive we want the emphasis to be on tackling
re-offending. But the creation of a new quango will do nothing to reduce
re-offending. All the evidence from abroad shows that strengthening the
ability to work with people in the community, non-custodial sentences and
probation are more effective in stopping crime. A new unaccountable body
dominated by the Prison Service would be likely to place a greater emphasis
on punishment and custody.
He also points out that social work criminal justice services are delivering.
'Concerns regarding re-offending don't indicate failure of social work
services. Criminal justice teams are successfully addressing re-offending,
and to improve this we need to increase the resources available to them and
more closely integrate them with other local government services like
social work, housing, education and community services - not rip them out
of local government altogether.'
The union also believes that the cost and disruption of another unelected
quango will remove more services from local control, divert attention from
the need to reduce re-offending and make it more difficult to achieve the