Positive inspection of D&G Justice Social Work Services

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A Care Inspectorate team inspected justice social work services in Dumfries and Galloway during November and December 2019. The Care Inspectorate has now published its report.

The Care Inspectorate’s findings include:

• Improving the life chances and outcomes for people subject to a community payback order [CPO}: Adequate

• Impact on people who have committed offences: Very Good

• Assessing and responding to risk and need: Good

• Planning and providing effective intervention: Good

• Leadership of improvement and change: Good

In its report, the Care Inspectorate states that:

• Leaders are effectively delivering a significant programme of transformational change, making concerted efforts to modernise the service, strengthen the workforce, and improve performance.

• A restructured service and updated delivery model provide a solid foundation from which to deliver improvements.

• Sustained investment in infrastructure and the service delivery model means that all elements of the service are available irrespective of where people live in a large rural region.

• A new governance structure offers an appropriate fit for justice social work, giving more prominence to the service and enabling consistent oversight and scrutiny.

• People made subject to community payback order experience predominantly positive, empowering relationships with skilled and committed staff.

• There is a strong commitment to an improvement culture and delivering better outcomes for people.

• Positive outcomes are being achieved for people, particularly in relation to building confidence, community inclusion, and understanding offending behavior.

• Performance in key areas of practice isn’t yet as good as it could be. But, a restructured service and updated delivery model provide a solid foundation from which to deliver improvement.

Areas for improvement:

• Reinforce the importance of the national outcomes and standards, which are based on best practice, and create a mechanism that supports adhering to them.

• Establish and embed routine quality assurance processes.

• Articulate evidence-based person-centric priorities in strategic plans and business plans.

• Introduce and embed a robust performance management and reporting framework that is capable of tracking performance against local and national targets.

Councillor Stephen Thompson, chair of the Social Work Service committee, said: “Protecting our most vulnerable people is a priority for our Council. I’m really encouraged by the Care inspectorate’s report on justice social work services in Dumfries and Galloway. It represents considerable progress and is testament to all the staff who are working to support our services. I’d like to thank the staff for their efforts and acknowledge that we can continue to improve with the benefit of the Care Inspectorate’s feedback.”
Councillor David McKie, vice chair, said: “I’m delighted with the Care Inspectorate’s report, which evidences the fine work that is being done in our social work services. Our staff should be very pleased with the positive feedback from service users and be proud of themselves. We are, of course, aware that there is always room for improvement, and we must constantly strive to be the best we can be.”
Chief Social Work Officer, Lillian Cringles, said: “I’m delighted with the Care Inspectorate’s report, which clearly demonstrates the progress being made by social work services in Dumfries and Galloway. I’m proud of our staff and they should be proud of themselves. This is clear evidence of our desire to achieve sustainable improvement in our service.”
A spokesman for justice social work services in Dumfries and Galloway said: “We welcome the Care Inspectorate’s report, which is a fair and accurate reflection of where we are currently in our transformation programme.
“There is a focus on justice social work services as we move towards increased use of community sentences in order to reduce the use of short-term prison sentences. It’s important that those sentencing and local communities have confidence in how community payback orders are implemented and managed and that they deliver positive outcomes. The Care Inspectorate is confident that people experience positive and empowering relationships and achieve positive outcomes.
“We acknowledge the need for our continued improvement and the Care Inspectorate’s view that we have the commitment and capacity to deliver the improvements identified.
“We’d like to thank everyone who volunteered to meet the inspectors and discuss their views of of justice social work services.”

Background

The governance arrangements for justice social work services are set out in legislation, making local authorities responsible for delivering services for those involved in the justice system. These include completing reports for courts and the Parole Board, supervising people on statutory work orders and licences, and community payback orders.

There has been a significant change in justice social work over the last decade, including introducing community payback orders in 2011. Effective community-based sentencing options are essential to successfully implement the Scottish Government’s community justice strategy and extend the presumption against short sentences.

In this context, the Care Inspectorate has decided to focus inspections of justice social work services on how well community payback orders are implemented and managed and how effective services are at achieving positive outcomes.

For full report see: www.careinspectorate.com

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