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

5.3 Drug treatment and testing orders

(Tables 2 & 18-22 and Chart 7)


5.3.1 The drug treatment and testing order (DTTO) is available to courts (excluding justice of the peace courts) as an intensive disposal for people with substance-related offending who might otherwise get a custodial sentence. In addition, the less intensive DTTO II is available to courts in City of Edinburgh, East Lothian, Midlothian and Highland, and accounted for around 12 per cent of the DTTOs in these areas in 2020-21 (see §B.7).

5.3.2 The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting lack of court cases being able to be conducted meant the number of DTTOs commenced fell to a historic low of 230 in 2020-21 (Tables 2 & 18 and Chart 7).

Chart 7 Drug treatment and testing order commencements, terminations and completions/discharges: 2014-15 to 2020-21
Total drug treatment and testing orders commenced, total terminated and total successfully completed in each of the years 2014-15 to 2020-21.

5.3.3 Over the last five years, people aged 31 to 40 have been the most likely to receive a DTTO (1.7 per 10,000 population in 2020-21). It has consistently been those aged 25 and under and those aged over 40 who have been the least likely (0.1 and 0.3, respectively, per 10,000 population in 2020-21).

5.3.4 The proportion of orders issued to males has been around 80 per cent over the last five years (Table 18). A very high proportion (generally around 90 per cent) of those receiving a DTTO are unemployed or economically inactive.

5.3.5 The average length of a DTTO was between 17 and 18 months in the years 2016-17 to 2019-20 but was higher at 18.5 months in 2020-21 (Table 18).

5.3.6 There were 430 DTTOs in force on 31 March 2021, down by a quarter on one year earlier (Table 2).

Timescales for implementation

5.3.7 In 2020-21, the proportion of DTTOs which had first direct contact within one working day of the order being imposed was 62 per cent (Table 19).

5.3.8 The proportion of orders where the first case management meeting took place within five working days was 79 per cent in 2020-21, which was around the levels in years 2016-17 to 2019-20 (Table 19). In around 12 per cent of cases in 2020-21, it took longer than ten working days for the first meeting to take place.

5.3.9 These proportions can fluctuate considerably from year to year due to the small number of orders involved. The figures for 2020-21 are broadly similar to the past year. Therefore, while implementation may have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the extent of any impact is not clear.


5.3.10 The percentage of orders successfully completed tends to be lower for DTTOs than for other social work orders, due, in part, to the complex needs of those involved and the intensity of the supervision involved in a DTTO.

5.3.11 The completion rate for DTTOs terminated in 2020-21 was 66 per cent, substantially higher than at any point in the history of this order (Table 2). This rate may, however, be influenced in some way by the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic and the type of cases where it has been possible for the order to finish. Therefore caution is required in drawing any conclusions on completion rates over time.

5.3.12 The proportion of orders revoked due to review and due to breach in 2020-21 were 19 and 6 per cent respectively (Table 20). A custodial sentence was imposed in 27 per cent of revoked cases in 2020-21 (Table 21).

5.3.13 Eighty-three per cent of orders were terminated without breach applications (Table 22). This figure was higher than in 2019-20 and is likely to reflect the higher successful completion rate for orders which finished this year. The vast majority (94 per cent) of breach applications were lodged with the court within five working days of the decision being made to make an application (see the additional datasets which accompany this publication).



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