Criminal justice social work statistics: 2020 - 2021

Mainly national-level information on criminal justice social work activity in Scotland in the first full year affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Includes data on justice social work services and social work orders, as well as characteristics of the individuals involved.

This document is part of a collection

2 Background

2.1 Local authority criminal justice social work departments provide a range of services, including:

  • assessments and reports to assist decisions on sentencing
  • court services to assist those attending court
  • bail information and supervision services as an alternative to custodial remand
  • supervising people on social work orders to tackle offending behaviour
  • supervising people who are required to perform unpaid, useful work for the benefit of the community
  • prison-based social work services to those serving custodial sentences
  • preparing reports for the Parole Board to assist decisions about release from prison
  • throughcare services including parole, supervised release and other prison aftercare orders to ensure public safety
  • supporting those who have experienced crime and their families.

2.2 The data presented in this bulletin is extracted from criminal justice social work management information systems. This publication includes nine years of unit-level data for community payback and drug treatment and testing orders. This allows comprehensive analysis of the implementation process and outcomes for these orders. Further information on how the data is collected and processed can be found in Annex A.

2.3 The structure of this report reflects the main stages at which social work is involved in the criminal justice system, starting with diversion from prosecution and court based services, through to implementation of social work orders and structured deferred sentences, then to the supervision and support for those serving prison sentences before and after release. Some key orders and services are described in the following sections, and further definitions can be found in Annex B.

2.4 In the interests of presentation, time series tables in this publication tend to be for the past five years as this is normally long enough to illustrate current trends. However, significant public health measures relating to the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, including two national lockdowns, were in effect during the 2020-21 recording year. For example, the temporary closure of a number of courts early in 2020-21, as well as capacity issues when courts reopened, mean that statistics for most areas of criminal justice social work are lower than in previous years. Caution is therefore advised in comparing 2020-21 data with that from earlier years.

2.5 Data for longer time periods can be found in the additional tables in the Scottish Government's criminal justice social work datasets. These tables also include analyses at local authority level. Numbers in this bulletin are given unrounded in the tables, but rounded for presentational purposes in the text.



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