Justice social work statistics: 2021-22

A National Statistics Publication for Scotland.

The Chief Statistician has published the justice social work statistics for 2021-22. This includes information on justice social work services and social work orders, as well as characteristics of the people involved.

The coronavirus pandemic, and associated public health measures, have had an impact on many areas of justice social work during years 2020-21 and 2021-22. This resulted in lower volumes of cases going through courts, especially during 2020-21. Justice social work was affected by the national lockdowns and other measures to keep people safe. Some caution is advised in interpreting the figures for 2020-21 and 2021-22, particularly how they compare with earlier years.

There were 12,150 community payback orders commenced in 2021-22. This was 49 per cent higher than in 2020-21 but was the second lowest in the last decade. From 2012-13 to 2019-20, the number of orders commenced ranged from 16,100 to 19,500.

Community payback orders can be issued with one or more requirement. In both 2020-21 and 2021-22, the most commonly issued requirement was offender supervision followed by unpaid work or other activity. In 2021-22, 71 per cent of orders had supervision and 63 per cent had unpaid work.

The number of diversion from prosecution cases commenced rose for the fourth year in a row. It rose by 20 per cent between 2020-21 and 2021-22 to 2,700. This is the highest level in the last decade.

The number of drug treatment and testing orders commenced rose by 58 per cent between 2020-21 and 2021-22 to 360. This was lower than in any of the previous eight years when numbers averaged 560.

The number of bail supervision cases commenced in 2021-22 was 570, the highest in the last decade. This was 20 per cent higher than the second highest level of 470 in 2019-20.

The number of criminal justice social work reports rose by 36 per cent between 2020-21 and 2021-22 to 23,000, the second lowest in the last ten years.

There were 930 structured deferred sentences imposed in 2021-22. This was the highest number in the last four years.

There were 1,700 statutory custody and community based throughcare cases commenced in 2021-22, the second lowest in the last ten years.

View the 2021-22 statistics



This publication is available on the Scottish Government website and contains information on justice social work services and social work orders, as well as the characteristics of people involved. Information is provided for 2021-22 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 2021-22 have also been published. Official statistics are produced in accordance with the Code of Practice for Statistics.

The name of this and future publications has been changed from ‘Criminal Justice Social Work Statistics’ to ‘Justice Social Work Statistics’. This change has been made as the term justice social work is now the one consistently used across the justice system for social work provided within it. This is only a change of name and does not affect comparability with the data published under the previous name.

Further publications are available on the Scottish Government website on crime and justice statistics. 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 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.


Media enquiries

Back to top