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.

Notes and Definitions


11.1 Criminal justice social work services in Scotland are provided by local authorities throughout the country. All of the data in this bulletin is derived from local authority social work management information systems, with the exception of a small subset of the data on Community Payback Orders, which was obtained from the Scottish Court Service (see §4.16).

11.2 The National Outcomes and Standards (NOS) for Social Work Services in the Criminal Justice System framework was published in August 2010. In 2007, the Scottish Government commissioned a revision of the NOS, which was undertaken in parallel with the review and reform of community sentences. A multi agency Advisory Group provided oversight for the development of NOS during 2007 to 2010. This included an extensive consultation exercise undertaken on behalf of the Advisory Group. The NOS are intended to provide a clear framework of professional accountability, supported by strong governance and leadership, towards the national outcomes of community safety, justice and social inclusion.

Community Justice Authorities (CJAs)

11.3 The Management of Offenders etc. (Scotland) Act 2005 established provisions for eight local CJAs. These authorities have been established to provide a co-ordinated approach to planning and monitoring the delivery of offender services by planning, managing performance and reporting on performance of local authorities or groups of local authorities and key partner agencies including the Scottish Prison Service (SPS). Their aim is to target services to reduce reoffending and to ensure close co-operation between community and prison services to aid the rehabilitation of offenders. Each CJA consists of a Chief Officer, elected members of local authorities (LAs) and support staff to carry out the functions of the CJA.

11.4 Additional datasets, at CJA and LA level, are available on the Scottish Government website. Figures published there are routinely updated to incorporate new data and reflect any revisions to published data. There are 8 CJAs, structured as follows:

Community Justice Authorities

Local Authorities

Fife and Forth Valley
Fife, Clackmannanshire, Falkirk, Stirling

Glasgow City

North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire

Lothian and Borders
City of Edinburgh, East Lothian, Midlothian, West Lothian, Scottish Borders

North Strathclyde
Argyll & Bute, East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Inverclyde, Renfrewshire, West Dunbartonshire

Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Eilean Siar, Highland, Moray, Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands

South West Scotland
East Ayrshire, North Ayrshire, South Ayrshire, Dumfries & Galloway

Angus, Dundee City, Perth & Kinross

Criminal Justice Social Work Reports

11.5 The main purpose of a Criminal Justice Social Work Report (CJSWR) is to provide information about the offender and their background circumstances, prior to sentencing, which helps the court decide how to deal with the case. Reports can be requested by the court for any case but must be requested before imposing a custodial sentence for the first time, or if the offender is under 21 years of age. A court must obtain a CJSWR before making a community service or probation order or a community payback order (with the exception of a community payback order with only a level 1 (100 hours or less) unpaid work or other activity requirement).

11.6 In some cases, supplementary reports may be submitted to the court. These are shorter reports which provide supplementary information (in addition to that previously provided in a full report).

11.7 As described in section 3 of this bulletin, the CJSW report was introduced to replace the Social Enquiry Report (SER) in February 2011 (earlier in some areas). As a result, although tables in this bulletin refer to CJSWRs, the figures for 2010-11 and earlier years consist mainly of SERs.

11.8 For some CJSWRs, the main outcome and/or preferred option is given as "deferred (for 3 months or more)". A deferred sentence is a form of sentence in which the final decision about any punishment is deferred or put off to a future date, usually some three to 12 months later.

Community Payback Orders

11.9 Community Payback Orders (CPOs) were introduced by the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 and came into effect from 1 February 2011. A CPO can only be imposed in respect of offence(s) committed on or after 1 February 2011. The CPO replaces provisions for CSOs, POs and SAOs and the former Community Reparation Order. Other existing court orders including Drug Treatment and Testing Orders and Restriction of Liberty Orders remain unchanged.

11.10 A CPO can consist of one of more of the following nine requirements at commencement:

  • Offender supervision
  • Compensation
  • Unpaid work or other activity
  • Programme
  • Residence
  • Mental health treatment
  • Drug treatment
  • Alcohol treatment
  • Conduct

In addition, if an offender has failed to comply with one or more of the requirements in the order, a further requirement can be imposed after the original imposition of the order, namely a restricted movement requirement.

11.11 An unpaid work or other activity requirement can only be issued to offenders aged 16 or over. A court must impose an offender supervision requirement if the offender is under 18 years of age at the time the order is imposed and/or if at least one of the following requirements have been issued:

  • Compensation
  • Programme
  • Residence
  • Mental health treatment
  • Drug treatment
  • Alcohol treatment
  • Conduct

11.12 A CPO can be imposed in any of the High Court, sheriff courts, justice of the peace courts or the Stipendiary Magistrates Court. A justice of the peace court may only impose a CPO with one or more of the following requirements:

  • Offender supervision
  • Compensation
  • Unpaid work or other activity
  • Residence
  • Conduct

11.13 In 2011-12, local authorities were asked for the first time to submit details of CPOs as part of the aggregate CJS return. Monthly figures had earlier been obtained from Scottish Court Service which indicated that there were only around 330 CPOs imposed in 2010-11. Figures obtained from Scottish Court Service on CPOs imposed between February 2011 and March 2012 are published on the Scottish Government website. These figures are on a different basis from those which have been collected from local authorities. The two sets of figures are therefore not directly comparable.

Community Service Orders

11.14 Although the volume of CPOs has, as expected, been increasing throughout 2011-12, there have still been large numbers of Community Service Orders (CSOs) issued by Scottish courts during that period. This is because CPOs cannot be imposed for any offences committed before 1 February 2011. As a result, local authorities were asked to provide the Scottish Government with the same data for CSOs in 2011-12 as in previous years.

11.15 A person 16 years of age or over and convicted of a crime or an offence can be given a CSO to carry out unpaid work in the community. CSOs can only be made by courts as an alternative to a custodial sentence. The court must also be satisfied that four conditions are met:

  • the offender must agree to the CSO;
  • community service must be available in the area where the offender lives;
  • the offender is suitable for community service;
  • suitable work is available.

11.16 CSOs are for a minimum of 80 hours up to a maximum of 240 hours under summary procedure and 300 hours under solemn procedure. They must be completed within 12 months.

Probation Orders

11.17 As discussed in §11.14, although the volume of CPOs has been increasing throughout 2011-12, there have still been large numbers of Probation Orders (POs) imposed. As a result, local authorities were asked to provide the Scottish Government with the same data for POs in 2011-12 as in previous years.

11.18 POs provide one of the opportunities for criminal justice social work services to focus on offending behaviour. Prior consent of the offender is required, and the order should be informed by an Action Plan in which the offender agrees to address their offending behaviour and its underlying causes. POs can be used very flexibly by the courts and additional conditions can be attached regarding the offender undertaking unpaid work, their place of residence, curfew (including electronic monitoring), financial recompense to the victim or attendance at a specialist programme (e.g. alcohol or drug treatment). The minimum length of a PO is 6 months and the maximum is 3 years.

Supervised Attendance Orders

11.19 As discussed in §11.14, although the volume of CPOs has been increasing throughout 2011-12, there have still been large numbers of Supervised Attendance Orders (SAOs) imposed. As a result, local authorities were asked to provide the Scottish Government with the same data for SAOs in 2011-12 as in previous years.

11.20 SAOs require an offender who has failed to pay a fine to undertake a programme of designated activities for a specified number of hours. The programme can involve:

  • activities of an educational nature;
  • activities designed to stimulate interest and encourage the constructive use of time;

activities involving unpaid work in the community.

11.21 SAOs run for between 10 and 100 hours (subject to a limit of 50 hours where the outstanding amount is up to £200) as ordered by the court.

Drug Treatment and Testing Orders

11.22 The Drug Treatment and Testing Order (DTTO) is a high tariff disposal for offenders with drug misuse problems, who might otherwise receive a custodial sentence. This order contains features unique to a community disposal, including a requirement for regular reviews by the court and a requirement that the offender consent to frequent random drug tests throughout the lifetime of the order.

11.23 DTTOs were rolled out across Scotland in phases. Between 1999 and 2002 this order was rolled out to Glasgow, Fife and Aberdeen. In 2002-03 the order became available in Edinburgh, Renfrewshire/Inverclyde and Tayside. At present the Order is now available to the High Court, all Sheriff courts in Scotland and the Glasgow Stipendiary Magistrates Court.

Restriction of Liberty Orders

11.24 Restriction of Liberty Orders (RLOs) have been available to High, Sheriff and Stipendiary Magistrates Courts in Scotland since May 2002. An RLO can be imposed for periods of up to one year, and involves restricting an individual to a specified place for up to 12 hours per day and/or from a specified place for up to 24 hours.

11.25 The number of offenders with a charge proved, who received a main penalty of an RLO, is published in the Criminal Proceedings in Scotland report. The contract for monitoring compliance with Restriction of Liberty Orders is currently held by Serco Limited. Breach data can be requested from the Scottish Government if required.

Throughcare, Voluntary Assistance and Throughcare Addiction Service

11.26 Throughcare is the provision of a range of social work and associated services to prisoners and their families from the point of sentence or remand, during the period of imprisonment and following release into the community. Prisoners serving more than 4 years are released with a statutory obligation that they be supervised. Prisoners serving less than 4 years but who are short-term sex offenders (Section 15 of the Management of Offenders Etc. (Scotland) Act 2005) or who are subject to an extended sentence or supervised release order are also supervised on release. Throughcare services have a primary objective of public protection, though they are also concerned with assisting prisoners to prepare for release and helping them to resettle into their community within the law.

11.27 Voluntary assistance is available to prisoners who are not subject to statutory throughcare supervision on release, but who request such a service while in custody or within 12 months of release. From 2005-06, figures on voluntary assistance include the throughcare addiction service (TAS).

11.28 The throughcare addiction service (TAS) commenced on 1 August 2005 and forms part of the voluntary aftercare service, which is often referred to as "Phase 2 of the Enhanced Throughcare Strategy. TAS is delivered by local authority criminal justice social work - or by one of their contracted service providers - who will work with the offender in the 6 week period prior to release from custody through the 6 week period post-release. The TAS worker will offer a more intensive motivational service and attempt to help the offender address their addiction (and associated) difficulties, and link them into appropriate services. TAS is not normally available to those prisoners who are serving sentences of less than 31 days unless they are within the following two priority groups: female offenders and young male offenders (aged under 21 years). Information on TAS was collected for the first time via the 2005-06 CJS aggregate return.

Diversion from Prosecution

11.29 Social work diversion schemes aim to provide persons accused of minor offences with support and advice in relation to problems associated with their offending. In such cases, prosecution is waived, subject to successful completion of the scheme.

Bail Information Services

11.30 Data on bail information services was collected from local authorities for the first time in 2003-04. This data provides assistance to Procurators Fiscal and courts through verification of information in respect of cases where bail might otherwise have been opposed or refused. In a proportion of cases, this will result in a period of supervised bail.

Same day oral or written reports

11.31 A court may ask for an immediate oral or written report from a court-based worker during the course of court proceedings and adjourn a case until later in the day for this to be completed. A same day report is normally a brief report and not a full CJSWR. Same day reports are normally related to the need for specific information and advice with decision-making. The decision may be relevant to decisions regarding bail or custody, the need for a full report, the need to continue a case to a future date and final disposal.

Review of Criminal Justice Social Work Statistics

11.32 A working group was formed in early 2010 to discuss future data collection for criminal justice social work. The group met on nine separate occasions during 2010 and 2011 and agreed to collect data at a unit level basis for CPOs and DTTOs from 2012-13 onwards. The collection of unit level, as opposed to aggregate level, data will provide better information on the process and outcome of these orders. Consideration is also being given to collecting data on CJSWRs on a similar unit level basis in the future. Papers from the meetings, including agendas and minutes, can be found on the CJSW Review Sharepoint website.

Data quality

11.33 The data obtained from local authorities is considered of good quality as it is obtained from recording systems which the local authorities themselves use for case management purposes and to produce statistics for their own internal purposes. Nevertheless, the aggregate data which is sent to the Scottish Government is subjected to several validation processes as follows before publication:

(i) Electronic checks are set up within the return to notify local authorities of any errors such as, for example, where the totals in two tables should tally but do not,

(ii) Where any of the key totals for a particular year have changed substantially since the previous year, the Scottish Government notifies the local authorities and asks them to confirm the figures are correct.

(iii) Once data returns from all 32 councils have been received, further work is done to assess any major changes to figures over the most recent three year period. Local authorities are sent a summary of the numbers they have provided for the last three years and are given time to comment on whether they are content with their figures or if they wish to supply any revised figures.

Uses of the information

11.34 The data collected on criminal justice social work is collected for a wide range of purposes. The statistics help the government to form, monitor and evaluate policy, and to obtain an accurate picture of local authorities' workloads in terms of criminal justice social work activity. Keeping in regular contact with local authorities is also advantageous as this enables the government to ensure they are kept up to date on matters which affect both current and future data collections. Meetings of the Local Authority Social Work Statistics : Criminal Justice (LASWS:CJ) group are held twice a year to discuss relevant data collection and other matters.

11.35 Some examples detailing how the data is or has been used are:

  • To determine annual funding allocations for community justice authorities.
  • Figures by local authority and community justice authority area are used to provide comparative data over time to help support workload planning exercises, performance monitoring and the allocation of staff resources.
  • To inform the uptake, in terms of sentencing by courts, of specific preferred options in criminal justice social work reports.
  • To inform debate on appropriate sanctions for women offenders.
  • Local authorities benchmarking the demand on their service with other authorities, to assess any differences in the way different councils operate.

Sources of information

11.36 Form CJS, an aggregate return covering data on Social Enquiry Reports, Community Service Orders and Probation Orders, was introduced for the year ending 31 March 2000. The return is submitted annually by each local authority. Additional data items have been added to the return over time, including:

Supervised Attendance Orders - added from 2000-01
Throughcare (Statutory Post Release Supervision) - added from 2001-02
Diversion from Prosecution - added from 2001-02
Drug Treatment and Testing Orders - added from 2003-04
Bail information - added from 2003-04
Voluntary Assistance - added from 2004-05
Court Services - added from 2004-05
Throughcare Addiction Service - added from 2005-06
Community Payback Orders - added in 2011-12

The content and format of the return has continued to evolve, to reflect new demands for information and to clarify points of definition in relation to particular data items. Some caution should therefore be exercised when making comparisons over time.

11.37 The total population figures used as denominators in this bulletin are the relevant mid-year estimates for 16-70 year olds, prepared by the National Records of Scotland (NRS).

11.38 Improvements in data quality are ongoing, particularly in relation to figures on breach applications, where methodological changes have resulted in better recording of breaches.

11.39 The statistics presented in this bulletin reflect information on criminal justice social work activity in the financial year 1 April 2011 to 31 March 2012 as reported to the Scottish Government at December 2012. Figures from previous years may therefore differ slightly from those published previously, and may also be subject to revision in future publications.

11.40 Where changes are made to earlier years' figures, this is flagged up in the publication at the time of the change but not in future publications. Live tables may be revised at any point if required, and these revisions are highlighted in the relevant table.

11.41 Figures in this bulletin on the number of new orders commenced are not collected on the same basis as those published in the Criminal Proceedings bulletin. This is due to differences in the unit of analysis (cases versus orders) and criminal proceedings data referring to the court rather than the local authority implementing the order.

UK Statistics Authority - Assessment of Criminal Justice Social Work Statistics

11.42 The statistics in this bulletin are all designated as "National Statistics", with the exception of §4.37 and Chart 7 (provisional management information on Community Payback Orders, obtained from the Scottish Court Service).

11.43 Criminal justice social work statistics were designated as "National Statistics" under the provisions of the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007, but the UK Statistics Authority has a statutory responsibility to reassess whether the Code of Practice for Official Statistics has been complied with in relation to these statistics. Where the Authority determines that the Code has been complied with, it will confirm that the statistics can remain designated as "National Statistics", but otherwise not.

11.44 In fulfilling its statutory remit, the Authority uses the assessment process to identify steps that could be taken to improve the service to users of the statistics, and reports accordingly. In this way, their assessment supports the Authority's overall objective, which is to promote and safeguard the production and publication of official statistics that serve the public good. The criminal justice social work statistics and prisons statistics in Scotland were assessed together during 2011 by the UK Statistics Authority, under the banner of "Statistics on Offender Management". The assessment report was published on 28 July 2011 and is available from here (report no. 128):

The report contained seven requirements which the Scottish Government were required to address and report back to the UK Statistics Authority. It was confirmed in April 2012 that criminal justice social work statistics and prisons statistics had retained their "National Statistics designation.

Estimated cost of data collection for this publication

11.45 In the 2011-12 statistical return, local authorities were asked to provide estimates of how long it took them to complete their data returns. From the information provided, the cost to councils of supplying and validating the data for this bulletin was estimated at £33,000. Details of the calculation methodology are available on the Scottish Government Crime and Justice Statistics website at


Email: Howard Hooper

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