Edinburgh Research Explorer

Criminal justice social work: Exploring gender issues: Reflections on the 1968 Act

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationEdinburgh
PublisherSocial Work Scotland
Commissioning bodySocial Work Scotland
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 5 Dec 2018

Abstract

This study explores gender in criminal justice social work(CJSW) in Scotland, historically and in the present day.It is well-known that the Social Work (Scotland) Act brought services together into a generic social work service for the first time. What is less recognised is that there was considerable opposition to this from within the (largely male) probation service; the rest of the UK’s decision to keep probation out of social work shows just how strongly views were felt. Our study asks – 50 years on – how did the decision taken in Scotland come about, and how are gender issues played out today in criminal justice social work (CJSW)? The study employed a mixed methods approach involving a review of literature and research, a national online survey and focus groups. Thematic data analysis followed. The findings throw into question gendered representations of CJSW, past and present. While it is clear that gender remains a significant dimension in CJSW, this is not always in ways that we might expect. Specifically,gender emerges as an inevitable constituent in a workforce that works ‘mostly with men’; it is as a key feature of work with those convicted of sexual offences and domestic violence; it can be seen in approaches with women who offend; and finally, it plays out in both workload allocation and career progression.We conclude that CJSW is an important space for understanding gender and social work in Scotland,with scope for more explicit, complex and reflexive engagement with this topic in the future.

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