Reconvictions at 21-year low

Rehabilitation successful in reducing re-offending.

The reconviction rate for offenders in Scotland has fallen to its lowest level since comparable records began.

Officials statistics for the 2017-18 offender cohort show the percentage of offenders who are reconvicted in a year was 26.3% – which is a one percentage point decrease from 27.3% in 2016-17.

The average number of reconvictions – a measure of how often offenders are reconvicted – also fell over the same period from 0.48 to 0.46, a reduction of 4%.

Offenders who committed a crime of dishonesty had the highest reconviction rate, compared to offenders that committed another type of crime. Offenders who committed a sexual crime had the lowest reconviction rate.

The statistics also show that offenders given a short custodial sentence of one year or less are reconvicted nearly twice as often as those given a Community Payback Order (CPO).

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said:

“I welcome these statistics that show our evidence-based approach to rehabilitation, both in communities and custody, is working with reconviction levels at a 21-year low.

“We know that community sentences are more effective than short custodial sentences and these figures are testament to that – and underline why we were correct to extend the statutory presumption against short prison sentences.

“We are expanding the availability of effective community interventions, including more than £117 million investment in community justice services, an increase of more than £6.5 million compared to last year.

“This includes approximately £11.6 million investment in third sector organisations working to reduce reoffending to fund specialist services including employment training and early intervention.

“By investing in rehabilitation to help people turn their lives around and reduce reoffending we are helping to keep crime down and communities safe.”

Karyn McCluskey, Community Justice Scotland Chief Executive, said:

“Community justice allows people who commit a crime to pay back to the community they harmed whilst addressing any underlying causes of crime such as addiction, homelessness and mental health issues.

“These figures demonstrate clearly the link between sentences served in the community and the prevention of reoffending. This shows that community justice can, and does, change the pattern of people offending and can make Scotland safer.

“Whilst I welcome the progression indicated by these latest statistics, we cannot be complacent. We must follow the evidence of what works and invest in recovery, addiction services and address trauma which will have greater impact on reducing offending and cost less than utilising short-term incarceration.”


The National Statistics publication, ‘Reconviction Rates in Scotland: 2017-18 Offender Cohort’ has been published by Scotland’s Chief Statistician.

A statistical news release has also been published.

The publication contains detailed analyses of reconviction rates and the average number of reconvictions per offender by: offender characteristics, sentence type, crime type, and local authority.

Official statistics are produced by professionally independent statistical staff.

The latest cohort in the reconvictions statistics is the 2017-18 cohort, with reconvictions counted up to the 31 March 2019 at the latest for this cohort. This is before the extended presumption against short sentences came into force on 4 July 2019.


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