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Bail supervision is transforming lives in Fife

BLOGS | 19th June 2024
Ryan McCallum headshot

From community connections to holistic therapies – Fife Justice Social Work’s Service Manager (Operations) Ryan McCallum, explains how bail supervision is supporting people in the area

In Fife our Justice Social Work’s Bail Supervision Service is pioneering a transformative approach to justice – emphasising support, rehabilitation, and holistic well-being over punitive measures. Operating in the Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy Sheriff Courts, this service is not just about assessing individuals for bail supervision and electronic monitoring; it’s about integrating crucial welfare support and innovative therapy services to foster positive change.

Bail supervision supports people to comply with the conditions of their bail and is for individuals who would otherwise be held on remand in prison awaiting trial or sentencing.

They are released on bail on the condition that they meet with a bail supervisor a specified number of times a week. This is to help them comply with the conditions of their bail. Someone can also have bail supervision and electronic monitoring bail as a dual order.

We support people away from offending whilst subject to bail supervision by addressing welfare needs and mental health needs which are significantly linked to offending behaviour. Often by addressing these needs and linking people in with services we are reducing the risk of additional offending prior to sentencing. Individuals can be subject to bail supervision after having pled or found guilty of an offence. The same level of intervention would be provided to those individuals until sentencing.

A Comprehensive Approach to Justice

Individuals are assessed by the Bail Supervision Service, with a keen eye on not just the alleged offence but the person behind the alleged offending behaviour. A significant part of this understanding involves recognising the critical role of stable accommodation, which is why the service works in close collaboration with housing services. This partnership ensures that, right from the point of assessment, individuals have access to safe and secure housing, a foundational step towards stability and positive change.

Engaging with Communities

We feel what sets our Bail Supervision Service in Fife apart is its proactive engagement with people we’re supporting in their own environments. By stepping into homes and communities, the service breaks down barriers to engagement, making it easier for individuals to access the support they need and adhere to their bail conditions. This approach not only humanises the process but also significantly improves successful completion rates of bail supervision. It emphasises a recognition that effective support cannot be confined within the walls of an office; it needs to reach out into the very fabric of communities.

A Focus on Welfare and Well-being

Our Bail Supervision Service is deeply welfare orientated. Monitoring bail requirements is just one aspect of its work. The service is equally invested in the overall well-being of those it supports, understanding that welfare issues often lie at the heart of legal problems. This holistic view extends to the innovative holistic therapy services offered, providing a range of therapeutic interventions designed to address emotional regulation and negative thinking patterns. From traditional psychological approaches to a variety of holistic therapies, the service offers a broad spectrum of support aimed at fostering mental and emotional well-being.

Social worker Lisa will sometimes schedule informal meet ups in places such as Pittencrieff Park, Dunfermline for people using justice services. Photo from Capturing Community Justice photo bank

The Power of Holistic Therapies

We think the inclusion of holistic therapies in our bail supervision work is a testament to our forward-thinking approach to justice social work in Fife. We recognise that emotional and psychological issues often underpin offending behaviours, and these therapies offer a pathway to healing and transformation that conventional methods might miss. By addressing issues such as anxiety, depression, and trauma, the service helps individuals develop coping mechanisms and resilience, crucial components for successful reintegration into society and reducing recidivism.

The Impact and Future

Our Bail Supervision Service in Fife represents a significant shift in how justice is delivered, one that recognises the complexity of human behaviour and the multifaceted nature of offending behaviour. By focusing on rehabilitation and support rather than punishment, the service not only helps individuals navigate the legal system but also offers them a chance at a new beginning. The success of this approach is evident in the improved engagement and completion rates, as well as the positive feedback from individuals who have benefited from the comprehensive support and therapy services.

Maintaining communication and confidence with stakeholders including the Courts, Solicitor Faculties and Police Scotland has been key to the success of the Bail Supervision Service in Fife. Open and regular communication with stakeholders prior to bail supervision being implemented helped stakeholders understand the ethos of the service and what it aimed to achieve. Transparency in the work being done helped develop trust and understanding, which has given the courts confidence to impose orders meaning Fife is the local authority with the second highest number of Bail Supervision Orders imposed in Scotland.

We highlight our work in our annual reports and attend regular court user group meetings led by Sheriff Clerks for everyone involved in the daily running of the courts from Sheriffs to procurator fiscals, solicitors, victim support services, Police Scotland and justice social work. We discuss court matters, but it also provides a platform to discuss sentencing disposals which has helped keep bail supervision at the forefront of people’s minds, reaffirming its benefits as an alternative to remand.

Our Bail Supervision Service’s work is a powerful reminder of the potential for justice systems to not only hold individuals accountable but also support them in making lasting changes. As this service continues to evolve and expand, we believe it stands as a beacon of progressive justice work, one that prioritises human dignity, community engagement, and holistic well-being.

  • In a second blog coming soon, Ryan will talk about how Fife use a holistic approach to rehabilitation with Structured Deferred Sentences to support people in the community.