The extent to which there is a shared understanding of risk in the Scottish Prison Service

Barrett, Steven S. (2010) The extent to which there is a shared understanding of risk in the Scottish Prison Service. BSc dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    The Management of Offenders etc. (Scotland) Act (2005) outlined provisions for the introduction of Home Detention Curfew (HDC) for certain categories of prisoners. Prisoners in Scotland became eligible for release from custody on HDC on 3rd July 2006 (Scottish Executive, 2006). This initiative expanded the means by which offender management in Scotland could focus on community re-integration and included the application of electronically monitored movement restrictions. To 10 January, 2010, there have been almost seven thousand occurrences of HDC release in Scotland; all released by managers from within the Scottish Prison Service (SPS). Therefore, given the increased numbers of prisoners accessing the community prior to the end of their custodial sentences, this research explored the extent to which there is a shared understanding of risk, particularly around public protection amongst key decision makers within the SPS. Moreover, it also explored the extent to which a common understanding is possible and question whether such a common understanding is desirable. A critical assessment of the application of personal judgement and the quality and consistency of risk related decision-making was made. In order to support this assessment, the key variables considered by staff, particularly around static and dynamic risk factors, when making decisions, were identified through the use of a case study. A multiple method of triangulation utilising case study, survey by electronic questionnaires; practitioner interviews; literature and documentary review and direct observation of progression and risk-related management decisions, was used to inform research conclusions and it was argued that staff from a range of functions within the custodial environment, know what it is they do without necessarily possessing a shared understanding of why they do it. The dissertation will conclude by determining that individual life experience and paradigm structures of prison managers, when applied to early release policies such as HDC and progression to open conditions leads not only to inconsistent decision making and assurance concerning public protection, but also to tensions between the judiciary, the SPS and the devolved Scottish Administration.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Institute of Criminal Justice Studies
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2011 12:48
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 11:16

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