Criminal justice social work statistics: 2019-20

A National Statistics Publication for Scotland.

The Chief Statistician has published the criminal justice social work-statistics for 2019-20. This includes information on criminal justice social work services and social work orders, as well as characteristics of the people involved.

The number of diversion from prosecution cases commenced rose by 8% between 2018-19 and 2019-20 to around 2,000, which was around the same as the historic high of 2016-17. A total of 470 bail supervision cases were commenced in 2019-20, a 40% increase on 2018-19 and the highest level in any of the last seven years.

The total number of criminal justice social work reports submitted rose by 4% between 2018-19 and 2019-20 to 28,400, 10% lower than in 2013-14.

The number of community payback orders commenced rose by 1% between 2018-19 and 2019-20 to 16,700, the first annual rise since 2015-16. Between 2013-14 and 2019-20, the prevalence of unpaid work or other activity requirements has fallen from 80% to 70% of all orders while the prevalence of offender supervision has increased from 50% to 62%.

The successful completion rate for community payback orders was 69% in 2019-20. This rate has been around 70% since these orders were introduced 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 community payback orders, with completion rates 77% for those aged over 40 and 66% for those aged 40 and under.

There were 510 drug treatment and testing orders commenced in 2019-20, 15% less than in 2018-19 and the second lowest level in the last seven years. The successful completion rate was 39% in 2019-20, around the same level as the previous two years.

The number of fiscal work orders commenced fell sharply in each of the last two years, falling overall by 76% from 1,030 in 2017-18 to 250 in 2019-20. Just under 80% of orders terminated in 2019-20 were 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 2019-20 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 2019-20 have also been published. Official statistics are produced in accordance with the Code of Practice for Statistics.

The rise of 1% in the number of community payback orders imposed between 2018-19 and 2019-20 would have been higher had it not been for lower than normal court volumes in March 2020 resulting from the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. When looking solely at the numbers imposed in the April to February period in each year, orders imposed rose by 5%.

Further publications are available on the Scottish Government website on crime and justice statistics (under heading “Law and Order”). The website also contains more information about our statistics, which are produced by professionally independent statistical staff.

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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