Jargon Buster

Get to grips with the jargon.

Note : If there is a piece of jargon that you do not understand and would like explained, or if your feel there is something we have not covered, please contact us.

» Accused

A person who has been charged with committing an offence.

» Acquitted

When an accused person is found not guilty.

» Appeal

A challenge to an accused person’s conviction and/or sentence.

» Bail

When an accused person is released from custody by a court. They have to agree to certain conditions before they are released.

» Caution

This is where the accused has to attend a police station and be formally spoken to by a senior police officer. The accused must admit that he committed the offence, and the caution will then be recorded in writing. A caution is not a conviction, and after the caution, the offence will be dropped.

» Case conference

This is a meeting where the prisoner and everyone who is involved in supporting them come together to talk about any issues and (where relevant) what a prisoner wants to achieve over the next year.

» Closed Visits

This means that a prisoner and a visitor are separated by a glass partition and cannot make physical contact.

» Compliance

Following the legal requirement of the order of the court or licence.

» Community Payback Order

A community order that can be a direct alternative to custody involving a set amount of hours completing unpaid work or reparation in the community, as determined by the court.

» Core Screen Interview

Every prisoner is given a core screen interview when they first go to prison. This opportunity allows prisoners to ask for support for any problems they have.

» Criminal Justice Social Worker

An individual who works with a prisoner to support desistance after leaving prison.

» Criminogenic needs

Needs which are related to criminal conduct and which, when addressed, reduce the overall or specific risk of reoffending,

» Custody

When a person is kept in prison, unless they are in police custody, when they are kept in a police cell.

» DAAT or Dat

Drug and Alcohol Action team.

» Desistance

Cessation of criminal activity.

» Discharge Grant

If a prisoner has served more than 14 days in prison, they will be entitled to a discharge grant when released from prison.

» Employability

A person’s capability of gaining and maintaining employment.

» Evidence-Based Practice

Effective working practices which have been demonstrated by rigorous evaluations within the research literature.

» Extended Home Leave

A short period of temporary release from prison for up to seven nights.

» Family Contact Officers

Specialist prison officers who are there to offer support, advice, and information to families and who understand that things can be very difficult for families with a relative in prison.

» Governor

This is the person who is in charge of a prison.

» Hearing

Any time that part of the trial takes place in a court. There can be several hearings in the course of a trial.

» High Risk of Harm

There are identifiable indicators of risk of serious harm. The potential event could happen at any time and the impact could be serious.

» High Risk of Reoffending

The offender presents an ongoing risk of committing a further offence.

» Home Detention Curfew

A form of early release on licence from prison. It allows prisoners to live outside of prison providing they do not breach the rules of their curfew and is designed to help prisoners prepare for life after their release.

» Integrated Case Management (ICM)

This is a process where other agencies work closely with the Scottish Prison Service to give prisoners help and support to deal with their social or personal difficulties so that they are less likely to reoffend when they are released.

» Intervention

A discrete piece of work with a clear intended outcome and delivered in a repeatable way. An intervention may include one to one work, a rehabilitation programme, reparation, or an employment placement.

» Licence

If a prisoner is released under license from prison before the end of their sentence, they are placed under the care of social work services, and the license sets out the conditions of behaviour which they must meet.

» Low Risk

Current evidence does not indicate likelihood of causing serious harm.


MAPPA stands for Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements. It is a process whereby Police, Criminal Justice Social Work, and Prisoner services work together with other agencies such as local authorities to manage the risks posed by violent and or sexual offenders living in the community.

» Offender

Someone who has committed the offence or alleged to have committed the offence.

» Parole

When a long-term prisoner is let out of jail before the end of the sentence. The prisoner is still under supervision.

» Personal Officer

This is a prison officer who is assigned to an individual prisoner to assist them throughout their sentence.

» Prison-Based Chaplains

Chaplains are a source of pastoral and emotional support and information for people in Prison.

» Prison Canteen

This is the name of the prison shop where prisoners can buy specific items such as toiletries, food items, and telephone credit.

» PPC (Prisoners' Personal Cash)

Prisoners are not allowed to handle cash directly if money is sent in for them by a family member. Instead their funds are available for them to purchase items from the canteen. Prisoners are restricted in how much money they can spend in one week.

» Programme

A planned series of activities, delivered over a specified period on an individual or group basis, which typically, will form an element of a framework of Integrated Case Management.

» Proforma

This is a form given out by the prison for a prisoner to request any property to be handed in. Only items on a Proforma which have been approved by the prison can be handed in.

» Remand or remanded in custody

When a person is kept a police cell or prison before a court appearance or conviction.

» Risk Factors

Circumstance, events, or consideration with the capacity to cause offending, reoffending, or increased harm. Risk factors may be intrinsic to the offender or situational in nature.

» Risk Rating

An assignation of ‘very high’, ‘high’, ‘medium’, or ‘low’ to represent a person’s risk.

» Serious Harm

Harmful behaviour which is life-threatening and/or traumatic and from which the victim’s recovery, whether physical or psychological, can be expected to be difficult or impossible.

» Sex Offender Register

The Sex Offender Register is held by the police and contains the details of any one convicted, cautioned, or released from prison for sexual offences.

» Social Exclusions

The exclusion of individuals from the opportunities and resources required to meet needs and to participate actively in society.

» Social Inclusion

Action to change the circumstance that lead to, or have lead to, social exclusion.

» Static Risk Factor

Risk factors that cannot be changed (historical or fixed in nature, such as date of birth).

» Supervised Release Order

If a person is sentenced to prison for 12 months to four years and poses a risk to the public after release, then a court can impose a supervised release order for 12 months after release which requires the person to be placed under supervision by a social worker.

» Travel Warrant

A prisoner will be given a travel warrant on the day of their release to allow them to use public transport to return home from prison.

» Throughcare

Sometimes called ‘transitional care’, refers to a range of social work and other support services to prisoners from the point of sentence or remand, during their period of imprisonment and subsequent release into the community. It consists of two elements: work with people in prison to help them address and change their criminal behaviour, and work in the community designed to re-integrate them back into mainstream society.

» Very High Risk

There is imminent risk of serious harm. The potential event is more likely than not to happen imminently, and the impact could be serious.


Violent and Sex Offender Register

» Young Offender Institution (YOI)

A custodial establishment for people under 21 years of age.

We use cookies. By browsing our site you agree to our use of cookies.