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Problem Solving Structured Deferred Sentence


Local Authority area:

Aberdeen City

Primary Courts of relevance:

Aberdeen, Banff, Peterhead

All information provided by:

Aberdeen Community Justice Partnership

Aberdeen City Community Justice Information

Published: 23 April 2021

The information on this page has been provided by Community Justice Partnerships. Community Justice Scotland is not responsible for the accuracy of the information and is unable to respond to direct queries. All such queries in respect of the information shown on this page should be directed to the Community Justice Partnership to which it relates.

In Spring 2022, the information will be reviewed and updated where required. Thereafter a review, and any necessary revisions, will take place three times annually.

Problem Solving Structured Deferred Sentence

Interventions suitable for

Priority is young people and women with a range of complex needs

Programme title and provider

Problem Solving Structured Deferred Sentence

Details of all Specific national or local scheme/intervention(s) available

Available to Summary Courts within Aberdeen Sheriff Court. Aims to reduce the use of short custodial sentences and reduce reoffending by combining the authority of the court with support and rehabilitative opportunities to address the underlying causes of offending. Those admitted into the Problem Solving Approach have their sentence deferred while they engage with service providers for a specified period of time, during which they must return to court for regular judicial reviews with a dedicated sheriff.
The use of the Problem Solving Structured Deferred Sentence allows a degree of flexibility in working with individuals with complex needs, behavioural problems and chaotic lives. The emphasis is on earlier and more intensive intervention when a pattern of offending is becoming evident in order to ‘disrupt’ the pattern, ‘down-tariff’ and prevent custody at a later stage. A Problem Solving SDS is neither low tariff nor low intensity. It is a high intensity intervention from a criminal justice social work perspective, reflective of the complex needs of participants. Typically, it is “front loaded” with input from Social Worker, Support Worker and other agencies (including Venture Trust); up to 5 days per week; assertive outreach; includes monthly Progress Reports and Social Work attendance at Progress Reviews in Court.

Possible outcomes

Holistic approach to addressing offending aiming to prevent an escalation in offending with the focus on young people and women with a range of complex needs. To provide support and assistance in an effort to prevent further offending. This process also allows for other matters to be included in the Court Reviews.

Process for Assessment and/or inclusion in scheme/intervention

Initial interview at court to determine whether the person meets the criteria in relation to complex needs. If there is a plea or finding of guilt a Rapid Criminal Justice Social Work Reports is requested to be prepared within a week. A Structured Deferred Sentence is imposed and regular monthly reviews with an Admonition at the end if the approach has been successful.