Criminal justice social work statistics in Scotland: 2016-17

A national statistics publication for Scotland.

Annex A Sources of information and data quality

A.1 The annual aggregate CJS return for local authority criminal justice social work services was introduced for 1999-00 and covered social enquiry reports, community service orders and probation orders. The content and format of the return has changed over time to reflect new developments and an increasing demand for information, as well as to clarify points of definition in relation to particular data items. Additional items include:

  • supervised attendance orders (2000-01)
  • throughcare (statutory post release supervision) (2001-02)
  • diversion from prosecution (2001-02)
  • drug treatment and testing orders (2003-04, removed from 2012-13 onward)
  • bail information (2003-04)
  • voluntary throughcare (2004-05)
  • court services (2004-05)
  • throughcare addiction service (2005-06, removed from 2015-16 onward)
  • community payback orders (2011-12, removed from 2012-13 onward)
  • fiscal work orders (2015-16).

A.2 Data for community payback and drug treatment and testing orders has been collected at unit level for each order since 2012-13. The aim of this change has been to enable analysis of the process and outcomes for individual orders, which is not feasible through a collection of aggregate tables. This allows the scope for looking at how each order progresses and provides more detailed information on outcomes.

A.3 In 2010-11, there were estimated to be around 300 community payback orders issued – these figures have not been included in this bulletin although monthly figures obtained separately from Scottish Court and Tribunal Service do provide more details.

A.4 While 29 of the 32 Scottish local authorities were able to provide the CPO unit level data in 2012-13, all 32 have done so in each of the four subsequent years. In each year, some local authorities were not able to supply all of the variables requested. As a result, some tables will include estimates, and such cases will be indicated in the footnotes.

A.5 With the introduction of the CPO, information on the legacy orders (community service, probation and supervised attendance orders) has been phased out of the aggregate return. Due to the small numbers involved, the 2015-16 return did not collect information on the number of legacy orders commenced (estimated to be around 200) and the 2016-17 return did not collect information on numbers commenced (estimated at 150) or numbers terminated (estimated at 200).

A.6 The change in data collection from aggregate to unit level can result in identifying inconsistencies in the data and caution should therefore be exercised when looking at changes in the figures between 2011-12 and the five most recent years. It is also important to note that comparability between the unit level data for subsequent years may be affected by the type of people most likely to complete a community payback order during the first few years of implementation. Orders which finished during 2012‑13 and 2013-14 will tend to be lower-tariff orders which generally take less time to complete than those which finished during 2014-15 or later.

A.7 The statistics presented in this bulletin reflect information on criminal justice social work activity in the financial year 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017. Figures are extracted from live information management systems and may differ slightly from those published previously as administrative systems are updated.

A.8 Revisions are flagged up in the publication at the time but not in future publications. The live tables, including earlier data at sub-Scotland level, on the Scottish Government crime and justice statistics website may be revised at any point if required, and revisions are highlighted in the relevant table.

A.9 As a result of information provided by local authorities with their 2016-17 unit returns, some revisions were made to the 2015-16 and (to a lesser extent) 2014-15, 2013-14 and 2012-13 data for CPOs and DTTOs. These revisions were mainly a result of:

a. The inclusion in the 2016-17 data of orders which were in existence before the 2016-17 year but which had erroneously not been included in earlier years’ data returns, and

b. Some orders which were previously advised in the 2015-16 returns as being in existence at the end of that year but which had actually been completed/ terminated before then. Some authorities advised of substantial numbers of CPOs falling into this category, due mainly to orders not being closed off on their IT systems. However, the number of authorities for which this was the case is declining and this is expected to improve further in the future.

As a result of these changes, the total for CPO terminations in 2015-16 has been revised upwards by around 600, with CPOs in existence at 31 March 2016 revised downwards by around 800.

A.10 For some new records added to the 2014-15, 2013-14 and 2012-13 CPO data, not all of the necessary information was supplied. Some tables therefore contain a "not known" category for the information in question (e.g. Table 10, CPOs by court type).

A.11 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 bulletins. 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.

A.12 The data obtained from local authorities is considered of good quality as they come from recording systems which the local authorities use for case management and for internal monitoring. However, administrative data of this type will be subject to some degree of error which may arise in any large scale recording system. Therefore the data has been quality assured as far as practicable through a series of validation processes before publication.

A.13 The aggregate return includes electronic checks to notify local authorities of inconsistencies within the data. In the case of substantial changes since the previous year, the local authority is asked to confirm the figures are correct. Once data returns from all authorities have been received, further analysis is carried out to detect any major changes to figures over recent time periods.

A.14 The unit level collections for community payback and drug treatment and testing orders include automatic checks built into the data loading system so that errors in information provided are flagged up at an early stage for correction. The data are checked for accuracy by internal statistical administrative staff. Checks are also made to ensure there is consistency between 2016-17 and earlier years’ data.

A.15 Additional datasets at local authority level are available on the Scottish Government website. These no longer show the Scotland figures broken down by community justice authority area, as these bodies were replaced, from 1 April 2017, by Community Justice Scotland.


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