Justice Analytical Services (JAS) Safer Communities and Justice Statistics Monthly Data Report: August 2023 edition

This report contains summary statistics covering a number of important justice and safer communities statistics. It is published with up to date statistics every month.

Summary statistics on criminal and civil proceedings

COVID-19 impacted the number of proceedings and convictions in 2020-21. The number of people convicted in Scottish courts fell by 44% from 2019-20 to 42,532.

Annual number of people convicted in Scottish courts, as reported by the Scottish Government's criminal proceedings data, 2011-12 to 2020-21. Last updated June 2022.

The 2020-21 data mainly reflects the impact of Covid-19 across the justice system, and should not be interpreted as indicative of longer term trends.

Fall in convictions in almost all categories between 2019-20 & 2020-21. Convictions fell the most for motor vehicle offences (down 58%) and crimes of dishonesty (down 44%). However, convictions for crimes under the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act increased by 81% (383 convictions) in 2020-21 compared to 2019-20 (212 convictions). The course of conduct offence was only introduced in April 2019 and so to some extent an increase would be expected after the first year as it takes time for evidence to build up and cases to progress through court.

Fall in numbers of community sentences issued, but rise in proportion in 2020-21. The number of community sentences in court fell by 42% between 2019-20 and 2020-21, from 16,661 to 9,741, in line with the fall seen in convictions overall due to the impact of COVID-19 on court business. The proportion of all convictions resulting in a community sentence rose to 23%, the highest in the past decade. The proportion split of sentence types this year is likely a function of the differing levels of capacity of the different court types operating during the year rather than indicative of any trend.

Average custodial sentence is under a year. For those who are convicted in court and sentenced to custody, the average sentence in 2020-21 was almost eleven months (329 days) in length. This was 8% shorter than in 2019-20, but 14% longer than in 2011-12 (9.5 months). The proportion of people receiving a sentence of up to one year or less remained unchanged at 75% in 2020-21, the lowest proportion of the last decade.

Annual number of people convicted in court and given a custodial sentence : Breakdown by length of sentence, 2011-12 to 2020-21. Last updated June 2022.

The 2020-21 data mainly reflects the impact of Covid-19 across the justice system, and should not be interpreted as indicative of longer term trends.

Community payback orders still more likely to have supervision than unpaid work. There were 12,150 community payback orders imposed in 2021-22. This was 49% higher than in 2020-21 but still 28% lower than in 2019-20. The difficulties with delivering unpaid work due to Covid-19 was a major factor in more orders being issued with offender supervision requirements (71%) than unpaid work or other activity requirements (63%).

Percentage of community payback orders with the different requirements, as reported in the annual justice social work data, 2021-22. Last updated January 2023. Next update due January 2024.

Covid-19 impacted the reconviction rates for the 2019-20 cohort. The reconviction rate decreased across almost all categories. The overall reconviction rate was 24.1% in 2019-20, which is a 4.5 percentage point decrease from 28.6% in 2018-19. The data from the 2019-20 cohort mainly reflects the impact of COVID-19 across the justice system, and should not be interpreted as indicative of longer term trends.

Prior to COVID-19 affected data, the average number of reconvictions per offender has decreased over time. The average number of reconvictions per offender was 8% lower in 2018-19 compared to 2009-10. The fall in the longer term was driven by younger age groups, with average reconvictions decreasing by 9% for under 21s, 16% for 21-25 year olds, and 13% for 26-30 year olds. In contrast, average reconvictions increased for the older age groups over the decade, with increases of 9% for 31-40 year olds and 7% for those aged over 40.

Average number of reconvictions within a year of being given a non-custodial sentence or being released from a custodial sentence : breakdown by age group, 2009-10 and 2018-19. Last updated June 2023.

No. of children referred to SCRA on offence grounds down by five per cent in last 10 years. Statistics published by the Scottish Children's Reporter Administration (SCRA) show that, in 2022-23, 2,637 children were referred to the Reporter on offence grounds. This constitutes a decrease of 5% since 2013-14.

The most recent ten years show a general downward trend in initiated cases, though the latest figures show some recovery from 2020-21. There were 53,866 civil law cases initiated across the Court of Session and sheriff courts in 2021-22 (excluding summary applications). This represents an increase of 23% from 2020-21.

Most case types increased since 2020-21, except damages which fell marginally. The highest increases were in repossessions (up 1,204%) and evictions (up 200%). The increase in repossessions follows a large Covid-related fall in 2020-21 to a record low. The increase in initiations in 2021-22 brings numbers closer to the pre-pandemic levels but still 46% lower than in 2019-20. Evictions too are still substantially lower than pre-pandemic levels (84% down on 2019-20). Personal injury (up 12%) and family (up by 17%) recorded the lowest increases. Damages saw a 4% decrease from 2020-21.

Annual civil law cases initiated in Scottish courts, by type of case, 2012-13 to 2021-22. Last updated April 2023. Next update due April 2024.


Email: Justice_Analysts@gov.scot

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