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Reconviction Rates Fall in Scotland

New statistics from Scotland’s Chief Statistician have revealed that reconviction rates for offenders in Scotland are at the lowest levels for eighteen years. 

The reconviction rate is defined as the proportion of offenders who are reconvicted within a year after being released from a custodial sentence or given a non-custodial sentence.      

Over the past decade there has apparently been a decrease of 4.3% in the proportion of offenders being reconvicted within a year. In 2014-15, 28.2% of offenders were reconvicted within a year, compared to 32.5% in 2005-06. According to the Chief Statistician, this decline has been largely driven by decreases in reconvictions for offenders under the age of 25.

Fall in Individual Reconvictions

In addition to the decrease in the overall reconviction rate, results also show a decrease of 17% in the average number of times that individual offenders are reconvicted within a year, from 0.60 reconvictions per offender in 2005-06 to 0.50 in 2014-15. On average, male offenders have more reconvictions than females; in 2014-15 the average number of reconvictions per male offender was 0.51, compared with 0.44 for females.

Offenders who committed a crime of dishonesty had the highest number of reconvictions per offender (0.92 on average in 2014-15) compared to those who had committed other crime types. Offenders who commit a sexual crime had the lowest number of reconvictions per offender (0.18).

Impact of Different Sentences

The average number of reconvictions per offender also differs by the type of sentence they receive. 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.

The statistics also show differences in reconvictions for offenders receiving a custodial sentence by the length of sentence received. 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 offenders given a Community Payback Order (0.58).

Government Welcomes New Figures

“These figures show we are continuing to make good progress on tackling reoffending – a key goal of this Government’s justice strategy,” commented Justice Secretary Michael Matheson. “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,” he said.

“I want to see a Scotland where people are held to account for their offending behaviour, but are also given the opportunity to address the underlying causes of their offending behaviour and become contributing citizens in their communities,” he added. “Our new model for Community Justice encourages that approach through its fundamental focus on preventing and reducing reoffending.”

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