Custodial sentences

Criminal Justice Social Work
Off Block 1
Kilsyth Road Workspace
G66 1QE

Phone: 0141 578 8320

Hours of Service: Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm

For the most serious offences, courts can insist on a period of imprisonment or a “custodial sentence”.

Extended Sentence

An extended sentence allows the court to impose additional social work supervision on release from custody if they believe the offender may pose a risk to the public after their release. The offender will serve the custodial term in prison and will then be subject to supervision for an extension period of up to 10 years.

Supervised Release Order

A supervised release order can be imposed when an offender is sentenced to a prison term of between 12 months and four years, and they are considered to pose a risk to the public after their release. The court will impose a supervised release order after considering a criminal justice social work report. A supervised release order can apply for up to 12 months after release.


A licence is the legal document issued on behalf of the Scottish Ministers, which allows an offender to be in the community and not in prison. There are various types of licence, some with particular conditions attached.

The three main licences are parole licence, non-parole licence and life licence.

Parole Licence

Halfway through a long-term sentence (four or more years) a prisoner is eligible to be considered for parole and with the parole board’s recommendation, can be released on a parole licence.

The licence will require the individual to:

  • Report promptly and co-operate with their supervising (social work) officer
  • To be of good behaviour (including restraining from further offending)
  • To comply with the supervising officer's instructions  
  • To inform the supervising officer at once of any changes in address or employment

The individual may also be required to undertake counselling for problems such as alcohol, drugs or anger management. If the individual fails to co-operate with their licence conditions they may be recalled to custody to resume serving their sentence.

Non Parole Licence

If parole is refused, the offender remains in prison until they are released automatically, once they have served two-thirds of their sentence. The offender is then released into the community on a non-parole licence for the final third of their sentence, but is still subject to be recalled to prison to serve the remaining term if they breach the terms of their licence.