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Monday 6 Dec 2004

Social Work staff welcome move away from single correctional agency

UNISONScotland, the union that represents the staff working in Scotland's social work services welcomed the suggestion widely discussed in the media, that the Scottish Executive was no longer planning to set up a mammoth 'single correctional agency' and remove criminal justice from local government.

Stephen Smellie, Chair of UNISONScotland's Social Work Issues Group said: "Assuming the public statements in the media about today's announcement are true, those working in Criminal Justice will welcome the recognition by the Executive that the creation of a new quango would do nothing to reduce re-offending and would threaten the ability to work with people in the community. We are glad that the Government has recognised the warnings of UNISON and over 90% of the respondents to the consultation."

Joe Di Paola, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Local Government sounded a warning, however, about the new national direction the Executive are proposing to use to oversee the various agencies involved in Criminal Justice. "We will have to look carefully at the proposals." He said, "No one will object to having someone to set standards and promote good practice, but if this becomes a strait jacket that tries to enforce a 'one-size-fits-all' solution on all local initiatives, it will run the risk of stifling good practice and innovative projects."

UNISON who represents around 1300 plus members who staff the criminal justice sections in Scotland's social work departments, has consistently campaigned against the proposals for a single agency, advocating increased emphasis and resources to alternatives to custody, and increased networking between central and local agencies to develop and promote innovative schemes.

The union was planning to step up its campaign by using its social work members to target their MSP's and by allying with the large number of other organisations that opposed the establishment of the single agency.

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact: Stephen Smellie (Chair - Soc Wk Issues Group) 01698 454690(o) 07740 096 864(m) Joe Di Paola (Scottish Org - Local Govt): 0845 355 0845(o) 07990 505 698(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer): 0870 7777006(o) 07715 583 729(m)

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