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Safer Communities - Sentences Imposed

High Level Summary of Statistics Trend Last update: Tuesday, 27th February 2018

Sentences Imposed

A total of 92,334 people were convicted in 2016-17, down eight per cent on 2015-16 (99,962). 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 2016-17 were around 31% lower than the high of 134,416 in 2007-08. 

This reduction since 2007-08 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 44,999 in 2016-17 (49%). The number of financial penalties given in court has decreased over the last ten years, with current levels 46% lower than at the start of the last decade (83,344 in 2007-08).

The number of convictions resulting in a custodial sentence fell by eight per cent in the year to 2015-16 (from 13,766 to 12,690). Custodial sentences represented 14% of all convictions in 2016-17. This proportion has remained relatively stable over the last ten years, fluctuating between 12 and 15%.

Sentences Imposed by Court Type

Sixty per cent of convictions in 2016-17 were in sheriff summary courts, four percentage points less than ten years ago when levels were at 64 per cent in 2007-08. 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 six per cent of all convictions in 2016-17, a figure that has been relatively stable since 2007-08. 

Number of people with a charge proved in Scottish Courts by main penalty, 2007-08 to 2016-17

16-17conv pe


View chart data

Source: Scottish Government Criminal Proceedings database


Further Information

Criminal Proceedings in Scotland 2016-17