Criminal justice social work statistics: 2017-18

A National Statistics Publication for Scotland.

The statistics report Criminal justice social work statistics in Scotland : 2017-18 has been published today by Scotland’s Chief Statistician. This includes information on criminal justice social work services and social work orders, as well as characteristics of the people involved.

The number of social work orders issued and criminal justice social work reports submitted both fell by 6% between 2016-17 and 2017-18.

The main driver in the fall in social work orders over this period was the 7% drop in community payback orders issued, from 19,200 to 17,800. Most community payback orders included a requirement for unpaid work or other activity (75%), and 57% included offender supervision.

The average age of people who received a community payback order was 33 in 2017-18. Average age has increased each year and was 2½ years more in 2017-18 than in 2012-13.

The successful completion rate for community payback orders was 70% in 2017-18. This is around the level observed over the last seven years and is consistently higher than the completion rates for the orders which community payback orders replaced.

Older people were more likely than younger people to successfully complete their orders, with completion rates 79% for those aged over 40 and 67% for those aged 40 and under. In addition, those in employment (84%) were substantially more likely to complete than those unemployed or economically inactive (64%).

There were 570 drug treatment and testing orders issued in 2017-18, the first annual rise since 2012-13. The successful completion rate for drug treatment and testing orders was 40% in 2017-18, the lowest in the last seven years.

There were just over 1,000 fiscal work orders commenced in 2017-18, with 86% of orders terminated during that year being successfully completed.


This publication is available on the Scottish Government website and contains information on criminal justice social work services and social work orders, as well as the characteristics of people involved. Information is provided for 2017-18 and, where possible, for earlier years too in order to identify longer-term trends.

Tables at local authority area level, which have been updated to include 2017-18, further information on Crime and Justice statistics within Scotland, and more information on the standards of official statistics in Scotland – which are produced by professionally independent statistical staff – are all available on the Scottish Government website.

Figures in this publication on the number of new orders commenced are collected on a different basis from those published in the criminal proceedings bulletins. Some of these differences include:

  1. The unit of analysis is cases for criminal proceedings but orders for criminal justice social work.
  2. For people with a charge proved who received more than one type of disposal, criminal proceedings data classifies them under the main disposal.
  3. Criminal proceedings data also classifies under the penalty of first disposal and does not reflect any subsequent changes to that disposal from, for example, an appeal or a fine default.
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