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Safer Communities - Sentences Imposed

High Level Summary of Statistics Trend Last update: Tuesday, 17th January 2017

Sentences Imposed

A total of 99,950 people were convicted in 2015-16, down six per cent on 2014-15 (106,622).  This continues the general downward trend of the last ten years and contrasts the short term rise in court activity between 2012-13 and 2014-15.  Convictions in 2015-16 were around 26 per cent lower than the peak of 134,416 in 2006-07. 

This reduction since 2006-07, when convictions peaked at 134,416 people, is consistent with the principal aim of Summary Justice Reform in that fewer cases go to court needlessly and more are dealt with by non-court actions, where it is more appropriate to do so.

Financial penalties account for the majority of court sentences and totalled 49,918 in 2015-16 (50 per cent). The number of financial penalties given in court has decreased over the last ten years, with current levels more than 40 per cent lower than at the start of the last decade (84,820 in 2006-07).

The number of convictions resulting in a custodial sentence fell by 2 per cent in the year to 2014-15 (from 14,035 to 13,735). Custodial sentences represented 14 per cent of all convictions in 2015-16.  This proportion has remained relatively stable over the last ten years, fluctuating between 12 and 15 per cent.

Sentences Imposed by Court Type

Fifty-nine per cent of convictions in 2015-16 were in sheriff summary courts, 6 percentage points less than ten years ago when levels were at 65 per cent in 2006-07. The fall reflects the growing share of activity in Justice of the Peace (JP) courts, which accounted for 35 per cent of convictions in 2015-16 compared to 31 per cent in 2006-07.  High court and sheriff solemn courts accounted for 6 per cent of all convictions in 2015-16, a figure that has been relatively stable since 2006-07. 

Number of people with a charge proved in Scottish Courts by main penalty, 2006-07 to 2015-16



View chart data

Source: Scottish Government Criminal Proceedings database


Further Information

Criminal Proceedings in Scotland 2015-16