The imprisonment and preparation for release of offenders convicted of offences against children – circular no SW/11/1994

The circular ensures that social work departments are notified when prisoners convicted of sexual offences against children are to be released from custody.

The prison-based social worker is responsible for undertaking a risk assessment of the offender.  This and any other relevant information – for example if the prisoner has undertaken a programme of work on his/her offending behaviour while in custody – are sent to the relevant social work department/s prior to the offenders release.

This information will be sent to the social work department/s in the areas:

      • Where the offender intends to reside on his release if there are children in the household he/she will join.
      • Where his or her own children reside.
      • Where the child/ren he or she previously offended against are residing.

The team leader, on receipt of the information, will ensure that an initial assessment is undertaken of any child who may be at risk from the offender. Liaison with the Criminal Justice Throughcare team leader should take place if the team is, or will be, involved with the offender.

Should concerns be identified, the team leader should ensure that

      • Safeguards are in place to protect the child, if required
      • A full assessment is undertaken
      • Consideration is given to whether or not child protection measures are required. Consultation should take place with the Co-ordinator, Children Services.
      • Referral to the Reporter is considered.

If offenders are released pending appeal, prison staff should notify the prison Social Worker who in turn must inform the appropriate agencies as soon as possible.