My name is Rania Hamad and I’m a senior practitioner in criminal justice social work with a specific remit of hate crime and restorative justice. I’m employed by the City of Edinburgh Council and I’m registered with the SSSC as a social worker.
When I left university with a degree in sociology with gender studies I knew I wanted to work with people experiencing adversity. I was a support worker for people with mental health difficulties for two years then felt the time was right to study social work. As I had a first degree I chose to apply for a Master of Social Work (MSW). Studying criminal justice fascinated and inspired me and I just knew I wanted to become a criminal justice social worker. So 11 years ago that’s what I did!
It’s impossible to describe a typical day in criminal justice social work. It’s such a varied career! My job includes working with people aged 18 and over who have been convicted of a range of offences. I prepare background reports for the Sheriff and High Courts, work with people throughout their custodial sentence and when they are released, and supervise people on community based orders. There’s also now a strong developmental focus and I’m now specialising in hate crime and restorative justice. I design training for staff across my service and the Council, and I’m leading on implementing Scotland’s first restorative justice service to be delivered by criminal justice social work.
My experience as a support worker for people experiencing mental health difficulties has been hugely beneficial. As a social worker this is a feature of life for so many of the people I work with. I had also volunteered in Edinburgh prison and, while studying, worked in a shelter for homeless people and a drug rehabilitation service. This enhanced my knowledge, understanding and empathy for the people using these services. It’s been a vital part of my social work career.
I’ve had all sorts of exciting learning opportunities throughout my career. This has included specialist training in risk assessments, trauma, domestic abuse and restorative justice. I’m a practice educator and undertook secondments at our groupwork service, the Willow Service (a specialist service for women involved in the criminal justice system) and Edinburgh prison. I’m also working towards my PhD in Social Work while I continue my career.
I love that I get to build relationships with and contribute to the rehabilitation and social inclusion of people in the criminal justice system (some of whom are the most marginalised people in society) whilst also contributing to the protection of the public. Balancing competing rights, needs, and risks of everyone involved can be challenging but partnership work with a range of professionals and agencies really helps.
If you’re considering a career in criminal justice social work it would be a great idea to do some voluntary or paid work in this area. This includes with adults experiencing mental health, substance use and homelessness issues. This will equip you with knowledge and help you consider if your values base fits this type of work.
I love that I get to build relationships with and contribute to the rehabilitation and social inclusion of people in the criminal justice system (some of whom are the most marginalised people in society) whilst also contributing to the protection of the public.Rania Hamad Senior practitioner