1.1 This publication presents national-level information on criminal justice social work activity in Scotland. It includes data on justice social work services and social work orders, as well as characteristics of the individuals involved.
1.2 Note that the nationwide lockdowns and other measures put in place to limit social contact during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic have had a substantial impact on social work activity since March 2020. Caution is therefore advised in comparing activity in year 2020-21 with previous years.
1.3 The number of social work orders issued in 2020-21 was 8,500, less than half the number in any of the previous six years (Chart 1 and Table 2).
** Figures from 2015-16 onwards exclude a small (and falling) number of legacy orders as details of these have not been collected from local authorities in those years (see Annex A). The 2020-21 figure includes an estimate for the number of community payback orders for Renfrewshire.
- The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and associated public health measures have had an impact on many areas of criminal justice social work during year 2020-21. This resulted in lower volumes of cases going through courts and also impacted on justice social work capacity. Some caution is therefore advised in interpreting the figures in this bulletin for 2020-21, particularly in terms of how they compare with earlier years.
- The number of diversion from prosecution cases commenced rose by 12 per cent between 2019-20 and 2020-21 to around 2,200 (Table 1).
- After rising sharply in each of the previous two years, the number of bail supervision cases fell by 48 per cent between 2019-20 and 2020-21 to 250 cases (Table 1).
- The number of criminal justice social work reports (including supplementary reports) fell by 41 per cent to 16,900 in 2020-21 (Table 1).
- There were 8,200 community payback orders commenced in 2020-21, a fall of 51 per cent from 16,800 in 2019-20 (Table 2).
- For the first time in 2020-21, there were more community payback orders issued with offender supervision requirements than were issued with unpaid work or other activity requirements (Chart 4). The change in the latest year is likely to have been substantially influenced by face-to-face delivery of unpaid work having to be suspended for periods during the year.
- Fourteen per cent of community payback orders which terminated in 2020-21 were finished during the month of March 2021 (Chart 6). This was influenced by The Community Orders (Coronavirus) (Scotland) Regulations 2021 coming into force that month, as these regulations reduced the hours of unpaid work requirements for some orders, resulting in some being automatically completed.
- The number of drug treatment and testing orders commenced fell by 56 per cent between 2019-20 and 2020-21 to 230, the lowest level in the last seven years (Table 2).
- There were 120 fiscal work orders commenced in 2020-21. Numbers have fallen sharply in each of the last three years, from the peak of 1,030 in 2017-18 (Table 2).
- There were 450 structured deferred sentences imposed in Scotland in 2020-21, a decrease of 49 per cent on 2019-20 (Table 1).
- There were 1,500 statutory custody and community based throughcare cases commenced in 2020-21, the lowest in the last seven years (Tables 1, 27 & 28).
- The number of home detention curfew assessment reports completed rose by nine per cent from the historic low of 810 in 2019-20 to 880 in 2020-21 (Table 1).
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