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Are criminal justice social workers adequately regulated?

Are criminal justice social workers adequately regulated?

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In Scotland, the probation officers' role is taken by social workers. My experience of their work was dispiriting, to say the lease, yet I found to complain made things worse for me. I was on a licence for a long time and two or three CJSWs were in charge of me. Their attitude was at best indifferent, at worst contemptuous and I eventually told them that I preferred to return to HMP Barlinnie rather than stay under their supervision. Their response was, again, unhelpful; they did not ask why, or if there was anything they might do to change this, but just accepted that this was my personal choice. So I deliberately breached my licence without re-offending and was returned to Barlinnie to serve a further two years, two months and twenty days. I did not regret that for one moment, and nor do I now.

On my return to prison in 2014 I wrote a letter of complaint about the behaviour of these people using the only route available, that of their own managers. As you might imagine, I was roundly rebuffed and told that they were doing their job perfectly. The letter of rejection also stated that, because I had the temerity to make a complaint, my perceived "risk of re-offending" level was increased to High, which would have had a significant impact on me if I'd wanted to apply for parole.

Although my experience is subjective, and the many conversations I had with other prisoners who narrated similarly dismal accounts of CJSW were of a self-selecting sample, nevertheless there is no independent complaints system for these social workers. The police, who have perhaps less effect on our lives once we enter the prison system, have been made to work under the IPCC, yet these supposed professionals, whose unsubstantiated word can send people to prison for years with no court or judge to check, operate without any independent complaints process.

I would be interested in hearing from others who have had to live under the supervision of the CJSW department. Perhaps your experience was more positive than mine. If you made a complaint, what was the outcome?


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