Criminal Justice Social Work Statistics 2011-12

This statistical bulletin presents national level information on activity relating to community penalties in Scotland, including Criminal Justice Social Work Reports and “social work orders” - made up of Community Payback Orders (CPOs), the predecessors to CPOs (Community Service Orders, Probation Orders and Supervised Attendance Orders) and Drug Treatment & Testing Orders.

3 Criminal Justice Social Work Reports (CJSWRs)

(Tables 1 to 4, Chart 2)

3.1 The CJSWR is a new style report, which is intended to be more focused and concise than the previous Social Enquiry Report which it replaced. The new report is also intended to ensure a more consistent provision of information and is designed to allow the inclusion of more professional analysis. The purpose of the CJSWR is to assist in the sentencing process and to complement the range of other information available to sentencers. The new report had been introduced into all council areas by February 2011.

3.2 In 2011-12, a total of 42,100 CJSWRs (including supplementary reports) were requested by the courts, a decrease of 4 per cent from the 2010-11 total of 44,000. Just under 36,400 reports were submitted by local authorities to the courts (including supplementaries but excluding letters sent in lieu of reports), a fall of 3 per cent from 37,500 in 2010-11 (Table 1).

3.3 These falls at Scotland level are the net result of varying patterns at local authority level. Further information is provided in the extra datasets on CJSWRs at community justice authority (CJA) / local authority (LA) level which accompany this publication.

CJSWRs (excluding Supplementary Reports)

3.4 A total of 31,900 reports were submitted to the courts in 2011-12 (Tables 1 & 2), a very similar level to 2010-11. Eighty-three per cent of these reports in 2011-12 were made in respect of males (Table 2).

3.5 Forty-two per cent (13,400) of reports submitted were for people aged 25 and under. Around the same proportion (39 per cent) were aged between 26 and 40 with just under a fifth relating to people aged over 40 (Table 2).

3.6 Among the population aged 16 to 70 as a whole, there were 85 CJSWRs per 10,000 population in 2011-12 (Chart 2). Reflecting the general age distribution of offenders, CJSWRs were most commonly submitted for young adults, particularly those aged 18 to 20 (243 per 10,000 population). The incidence was also relatively high amongst 21 to 25 year olds (174 per 10,000 population) and 16 to 17 year olds (155 per 10,000 population). It should be noted that one person can be the subject of more than one CJSWR within a year.

3.7 The majority of CJSWRs related to the unemployed (57 per cent). Those employed and self employed accounted for 19 per cent, while 15 per cent of CJSWRs related to those not seeking employment (Table 2).

3.8 Amongst those where the ethnic group was known and able to be provided, 97 per cent of CJSWRs submitted in 2011-12 related to offenders who were white (Table 2).

Chart 2 Number of CJSWRs per 10,000 population by age and gender, 2011-12

Chart 2 Number of CJSWRs per 10,000 population by age and gender, 2011-12

Notes relating to CJSWRs in Chart 2:

Figures exclude supplementary reports. Rates are based on mid-year population estimates, with the rates for "Males", "Females" and "All" based on those aged between 16 and 70 inclusive and the rate for "Over 40" based on those aged 41 to 70. the 16-17 year old category includes a small number of reports relating to clients aged under 16 years.

CJSWRs and preferred options

3.9 One of the main purposes of a criminal justice social work report is to offer information and advice which can help the court decide between the available sentencing options. The National Outcomes and Standards for Social Work Services in the Criminal Justice System practice guidance on criminal justice social work reports and court-based services state that: "The report should highlight the worker's professional analysis. The preferred option should flow from the body of the report and be linked to risk. ... It is important to bear in mind that the decision on what disposal to apply is entirely for the court. The report should not offer any opinion as to what disposal might be preferable or most appropriate. The author of the report can and should however offer their professional assessment of how, and the extent to which, each sentencing option may maximise the opportunity for the individual to reduce reoffending and to change their behaviour. ... A more detailed report is likely to be indicated (and may require a further period of deferment) where ... risk of re-offending is high and/or risk of serious harm is identified."

3.10 A CPO was the preferred option for 27 per cent of reports in 2011-12 (Table 3). Ten per cent involved a CPO with supervision but not unpaid work, while 8 per cent involved one with unpaid work but no supervision. This may initially appear contradictory to the fact that more CPOs were issued with unpaid work than supervision in 2011-12 (see section 4:I). However, the higher proportion of CJSWRs with a preferred option of supervision without unpaid work reflects the fact that supervision cannot be given without a CJSWR being done, while a report is only required for unpaid work where the number of hours of work being imposed exceeds 100.

3.11 The proportion of reports where the preferred option was Community Service and Probation was 9 and 10 per cent, respectively. This was substantially lower than the figures of 17 and 26 per cent in 2010-11, as a result of the introduction of the CPO.

3.12 Fifteen per cent gave a deferred sentence of 3 months or more as the preferred option and 7 per cent of CJSWRs suggested a monetary penalty. Custody was rarely suggested, featuring as the preferred option in just over 4 per cent of reports. Fourteen per cent of reports suggested some other form of preferred option (including a Restriction of Liberty Order (RLO) or a deferment for a DTTO assessment). Fourteen per cent of CJSWRs in 2011-12 gave no preferred sentencing option - slightly lower than in 2010-11.

3.13 The main outcome for 24 per cent of CJSWRs in 2011-12 was a CPO (Table 4). Seven per cent of reports resulted in a CPO with unpaid work but no supervision, with 6 per cent resulting in an order with supervision but not unpaid work. In 12 per cent of cases, a CPO was given with both supervision and unpaid work.

3.14 Custody was the main outcome for 18 per cent of reports in 2011-12, the same as in 2010-11. As expected, with the introduction of the CPO, those with outcomes of Community Service and Probation accounted for a much smaller proportion in 2011-12 (8 and 7 per cent, respectively) than in 2010-11. The largest other main outcome categories in 2011-12 were deferred sentence and monetary penalty (both 8 per cent).


Email: Howard Hooper

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