Criminal justice social work statistics: 2020-21

A National Statistics Publication for Scotland.

The Chief Statistician has published the criminal justice social work-statistics for 2020-21. This includes information on criminal justice social work services and social work orders, as well as characteristics of the people involved.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and associated public health measures had an impact on many areas of criminal justice social work during year 2020-21. As a result, lower volumes of cases went through courts and justice social work capacity was impacted. Caution is therefore advised in interpreting how the figures for 2020-21 compare with earlier years.

There were 8,200 community payback orders commenced in 2020-21, a fall of 51% from 16,800 in 2019-20.  For the first time in 2020-21, a higher proportion of community payback orders were issued with offender supervision requirements than were issued with unpaid work or other activity requirements.

The number of diversion from prosecution cases commenced rose for the third year in a row, by 12% between 2019-20 and 2020-21 to a historic high of 2,200.

The number of drug treatment and testing orders commenced fell by 56% between 2019-20 and 2020-21 to 230. Numbers of fiscal work orders commenced continued to fall in 2020-21, from the peak of 1,030 in 2017-18, to 120 in 2020-21.

After rising sharply in each of the previous two years, the number of bail supervision cases fell by 48% between 2019-20 and 2020-21 to 250 cases. The number of criminal justice social work reports fell by 41% to 16,900 in 2020-21.

There were 450 structured deferred sentences imposed in 2020-21, a decrease of 49% on 2019-20. Home detention curfew assessment reports completed rose by 9% between 2019-20 and 2020-21, to 880.


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 2020-21 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 2020-21 have also been published. Official statistics are produced in accordance with the Code of Practice for Statistics.

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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