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Reconviction rates hit 18-year low

2 May 2017

Reconviction rates for offenders in Scotland are at the lowest levels for 18 years, according to figures published today by Scotland’s Chief Statistician.

The figures track those given a custodial or non-custodial sentence in 2014-15 and the number who reoffended in 2015-16. They show a rate of 28.2% reconvicted within a year, a decline from 32.5% in 2005-06, largely driven by decreases in reconvictions for offenders aged under 25.

There was also a decrease of 17% in the average number of times that individual offenders were reconvicted within a year, from 0.60 reconvictions per offender in 2005-06 to 0.50 in 2014-15. The figures are still higher for male offenders than for females, at 0.51 reconvictions per male offender compared with 0.44 for females.

Offenders who committed a crime of dishonesty had the highest number of reconvictions per offender compared to those who had committed other crime types. Offenders who committed a sexual crime had the lowest number. 

Measured by the type of sentence imposed, offenders given a drug treatment and testing order had the highest average number of reconvictions per offender, with a value of 1.71 in 2014-15, compared to 0.85 for those individuals released from custodial sentences and 0.35 for those individuals who received a fine.

Further, those released from shorter sentences of three months or less had, on average, a higher number of reconvictions (1.25) compared to those released from longer custodial sentences, such as between three and six months (1.16) and over four years (0.13). Offenders released from custodial sentences of three months or less also had, on average, a higher reconviction rate than those given a community payback order (0.58). 

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson commented: “The continued fall in reconvictions is down to hard work from partners across Scottish justice, working together to prevent offending and keep our communities safe.

“This is further evidence to back up our position that robust community sentences, particularly CPOs, are more effective at reducing reoffending than short custodial sentences."

Click here to access the statistical report.

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