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Further fall in prosecutions last year, official figures show

27 February 2018

The number of people prosecuted in Scottish courts fell by a further 8% in 2016-17, according to figures published by Scotland’s Chief Statistician today.

An overall total of 107,338 was reflected in an 8% fall in the number of people convicted, to 92,334.

The figures continue the general downward trend of the last 10 years – 2007-08 saw 149,048 people prosecuted – despite a short term rise between 2012-13 and 2014-15.

Falls in speeding (down 11%), crimes against public justice (down 11%), breach of the peace, use of mobile phone offences (down 35%) and common assault (down 7%) were the main drivers in the decline, but nearly all types of crime saw a fall.

Convictions for sexual crimes fell by 11% in 2016-17 to 1,037, a larger fall than the 7% decline in prosecutions, and convictions remain 37% higher, and prosecutions 62% higher, than in 2010-11. Convictions for rape and attempted rape were down by 7% from 105 convictions to 98, despite a 16% rise in proceedings for these crimes increasing froim 216 to 251.

Convictions for non-sexual crimes of violence fell by 3% to 1,722, while the number of convictions with a domestic abuse aggravator fell by 12% to 10,830, the second consecutive year of decline following increases over the previous four years .


The number of custodial sentences dropped by 8% over the year, from 13,766 in to 12,690, the lowest level since 2007-08.

Use of short custodial sentences has fallen, and the average custodial sentence length, excluding life sentences, was over 10 months, 7% longer than in 2015-16. Community sentences were also down, by 2% 18,600, while  fines and other types of sentence declined by 10% and 8% respectively. Community sentences now account for 20% of court sentences, compared with 13% in 2007-08.

The figures also include the first full year of statistics on recorded police warnings, introduced in January 2016 by Police Scotland to deal with low level offences and to replace formal adult warnings. There were 19,596 RPWs issued during 2016-17. 

Click here to access the full release.

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