Criminal Proceedings in Scotland, 2021-22

Statistics on criminal proceedings concluded in Scottish courts and alternative measures to prosecution issued by the police and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service are presented for the 10 years from 2012-13 to 2021-22. The latest two years of data were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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12. Financial penalties and other sentences

(Tables 6a-b and 7a-c)

The Courts can impose financial penalties such as fines, which are enforced by the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS), or compensation orders, which are collected by the SCTS with the monies then paid to the victim. A victim surcharge came into force in Scotland on 25 November 2019 under the Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014 which can apply to a person who is convicted and fined. For statistics on victim surcharges, see the SCTS Quarterly Fines Report.

The number of financial penalties rose by 60% in 2021-22 to 26,705 (45% of all disposals). The number of financial penalties were in general decline over the seven years prior to the pandemic, falling from 57,795 in 2013-14, when they accounted for 55% of all disposals, to 34,699 in 2019-20 (46% of all disposals). This general trend is possibly because the types of cases that would have historically attracted a financial penalty are now more likely to be dealt with by non-court disposals before they get to Court. More information is available in the Police disposals and COPFS disposals sections.

The median [note 1] fine imposed by Courts on individuals (excluding companies) in 2021-22 was £280, in cash terms [note 2]. The median fine has increased by 40% (£80) over the most recent 10 years, up from £200 in 2012-13.

The use of compensation orders as a main penalty rose by 31% from 463 in 2020-21 to 605 in 2021-22, after remaining almost unchanged for the preceding three years (2017-18 to 2019-20). The median value for compensation orders was £300 in 2021-22, which is 50% higher than the £200 seen in 2012-13, and the highest of the most recent 10 years. Please note that compensation orders can be given as an additional punishment to a single offence and hence the median is based on either the main or secondary penalty for specific offences, although this still only refers to the main offence.

Notes for financial penalties and other sentences

Note 1. The median value is the midpoint of a ranked series of data. It is used so that very high or very low values do not impact excessively on the calculated average.

Note 2. Year-on-year comparisons for fines and compensation orders are in cash terms, and have therefore not been adjusted for inflation.

Other sentences

“Other sentences” are mostly admonishments (94% in 2021-22), which are a verbal warning from the sheriff. In 2021-22, 9,629 people were admonished, which represented 16% of all convictions. This is slightly higher than the 15% in 2012-13, and within the pre-pandemic range of 14% to 17%. In 2021-22 the crimes for which admonishments were most commonly given for (where there were more than 1,000 convictions overall) were:

  • Common assault - 1,100 people or 17% of convictions
  • Crimes against public justice - 2,595 people or 33% of convictions
  • Threatening and abusive behaviour - 2,351 people or 26% of convictions



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