About the Social Enquiry Report
A Social Enquiry Report is to assist the Court with sentencing by providing an unbiased and professional assessment of the:
nature and causes of a defendant’s relevant background
the risk of re offending
the interventions necessary to reduce that risk
The SER Process
The Probation Officer will have 2 to 3 interviews with the client at the Probation Office and will have had sight of Police Case, summaries and list of previous convictions. They will also try to verify any information given by the client (with the consent of the client). If the client is a child, the Probation Officer will interview their parent or guardian.
A number of assessment tools will be used to help the Probation Officer make their assessment.
- LS-CMI or YLS-CMI on all clients, this examines any areas of criminogenic need and likelihood of reconviction
- Stable and Acute 2007 or AIM for clients who sexually offend
- Spousal Assault Risk Assessment (SARA for male clients who have perpetrated offences of domestic violence
assessments of literacy and numeracy are undertaken on all eligible clients
Community Service assessments completed by all clients eligible to receive a custodial sentence
In the SER, the officer will discuss the offender’s background and current lifestyle. They will look at the offender’s offending behaviour (both for previous offences and for the current offence). The SER will include an assessment of the defendant’s attitude to the offences, in particular the offender’s awareness of the consequences for the victim. If the defendant expresses remorse, guilt or desire to make amends this is included in the report.
In reports prepared on children the SER will also indicate the attitudes and response of the parent or guardian to the young person’s offending.
In concluding the report, the officer will consider risk of reoffending and will take this into consideration when recommending a sentence to the courts.
The Probation Officer will give reasons for their assessment and discuss the criminogenic risk factors that are amenable for change (dynamic factors).
The offender’s motivation and ability to change the offending behaviour will be discussed.
Defendants will be given an opportunity to read the SER or have it read to them. This will also apply to parents of children on whom a SER has been prepared. Once prepared, a copy of the SER is given to the Magistrate and a copy is provided to the defendant’s advocate.