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Social enquiry reports and sentencing in the sheriff courts

Hutton, Neil and Halliday, Simon and McNeil, F. and Tata, Cyrus (2008) Social enquiry reports and sentencing in the sheriff courts. [Report]

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Abstract

Social Enquiry Reports (‘SERs’) are intended to assist the sentencing process. They are written by social workers primarily for judges. As such they represent an important and interesting point of exchange between two professional groups in the criminal justice system with different responsibilities, backgrounds and perspectives. In Scotland, reports are written by generically trained social workers who continue to work within social work departments and who may be more committed to welfare ideals than their counterparts in other jurisdictions (Robinson and McNeill, 2004). The discretionary sentencing context in Scotland, set alongside the possibly more welfare-oriented professional identity of SER authors, make both the nature of the practice of social enquiry and its significance for sentencing matters of particular interest.