Fall in youth convictions

Total number of court proceedings and convictions lowest in a decade.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf has welcomed official figures showing the number of young people convicted of a crime or offence has gone down by two thirds in the last decade.

The Criminal Proceedings in Scotland bulletin for 2017-18 shows a significant reduction in the total number of people of all ages proceeded against in court (95,254), and those subsequently convicted (82,716), compared with 2016-17 – reflecting a continuing long-term fall in crime and offences taking place across the country.

The use of custodial sentences under 3 months has fallen over the last decade, while the proportion of people given a community sentence has risen, from 14% in 2008-09 to 20% for the last two years. The average length of custodial sentence is at its highest in the last ten years, increasing by 21% since 2008-09.

The number of convictions for rape and attempted rape increased by 8% compared with the previous year and there was a 14% rise in the number of convictions for sexual assault.

Commenting on the fall in convictions for under 21 year olds, Mr Yousaf said:

“A child’s early years are their most important and can have a considerable impact on their future. Our emphasis across portfolios on early intervention and support for families, coupled with a youth justice strategy focused on prevention and diversion is helping to reduce the number of children and young people falling into a cycle of crime that could shape the rest of their lives. Clearly there is no room for complacency and we continue to work with national and local partners to help sustain and build on this progress.”

He added:

“Short custodial sentences are not effective and Scotland must go further to increase the use of robust, community-based sentencing. We know that murderers and others given life sentences are serving longer in custody and these latest figures show an increase in average prison sentences for a range of the most serious crimes including rape, attempted rape and homicide.

"We can support our hard-working prison officers by ensuring prison is focused on those people convicted of the most serious crimes and who pose the highest risk to public safety. This will help them to support rehabilitation to reduce the likelihood of reoffending and keep our communities safe.”


Criminal Proceedings in Scotland, 2017-18

Scotland’s investment in rehabilitation in the community and custody has contributed to a reduction in reconviction rates over the last decade to a 19-year low.


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