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Structured Deferred Sentence (SDS)

Last updated: 27th June 2024


A structured deferred sentence is a flexible intervention providing structured social work support for individuals post-conviction but prior to sentencing. They can be used for people who have offended with underlying issues that might be addressed through social work and/or multi-agency intervention. At the end of the period of intervention, the court retains the discretion to pass sentence in any manner that would have been appropriate at the time of conviction, but with the benefit of information from the supervising officer in relation to the period of deferral.

Further Information:

Structured Deferred Sentence (SDS) is an option that the Sheriff can consider when a person has been found guilty of an offence, but before they decide how to deal with the case. If a person is placed on an SDS they will be supervised by a Social Work Assistant (SWA) from Justice Social Work, usually for a period of 3 to 6 months (but possibly up to 12 months). SDS is designed to help address the causes of offending, with a view to helping the person steer clear of further charges. They will be expected to attend regular appointments with JSW, and with any other service that is identified to help meet their needs. This might include drug or alcohol counselling, employment services, or health services. If SDS proves successful, the Sheriff may decide to admonish the case when reviewed at Court (i.e. take no further action).