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

3 Diversion from prosecution

(Tables 1, 3 & 4)

3.1 The relevant prosecution policy of the Lord Advocate is that diversion should be considered for all individuals where there is an identifiable need that has contributed to their offending and which can best be met through a diversion scheme. This is particularly the case where the individual is aged under 18 and there is a presumption that an alternative to prosecution will be in the public interest. In diversion cases, prosecution may be waived or a decision on prosecution deferred pending successful completion of the diversion scheme. National guidelines on diversion from prosecution in Scotland can be found on the Community Justice Scotland website.

3.2 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). Numbers had fallen sharply between 2016-17 and 2017-18 but the rise in the most recent year has brought numbers to their highest in the last seven years (see additional datasets which accompany this publication).

3.3 During 2020-21, there were around 3,900 referrals, 3,600 assessments and 1,600 cases completed (Table 3).

3.4 The rise in cases commenced between 2019-20 and 2020-21 was due to a sharp increase of 34 per cent for those aged 21 and over (Table 4). By contrast, numbers for people aged 16 to 20 fell by 10 per cent over the same period. Despite this fall, people aged 16 to 20 were still substantially over-represented when the population base was taken into account - they accounted for 40 per cent of people getting diversion from prosecution in 2020-21 but only 7 per cent of the population aged 16 to 70. This continues to reflect a general focus on diversion for younger people.

3.5 In each of the last three years, around two-thirds of cases commenced have been for men and around half have been for people either unemployed or economically inactive (Table 4).



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