Justice Social Work Statistics In Scotland: 2022-23

This publication presents national-level information on justice social work activity in Scotland. It 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

The name of this publication was changed in 2021-22, from the previous ‘Criminal Justice Social Work Statistics’ to ‘Justice Social Work Statistics’. This was only a change of name and has not affected comparability with the data published under the previous name.

Significant public health measures relating to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, including two national lockdowns, were in place during the 2020-21 and 2021-22 recording years. For example, many courts were temporarily closed early in 2020-21. There was also reduced capacity when courts reopened. This means that statistics for most areas of justice social work are lower than in previous years. Caution is advised in comparing 2020-21 to 2022-23 data with that from earlier years.

The data quoted in the text of this publication is rounded. The tables published alongside contain unrounded data. More information on how numbers are presented is available in section 13.

Local authority justice social work teams 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 (e.g. community payback orders) to tackle offending behaviour
  • supervising people who need 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
  • delivering group work interventions on programmes such as Caledonian and Moving Forward Making Changes

The data presented in this publication comes from justice social work management information systems for each of Scotland’s local authorities. Further information on the collection and processing of the data is in Annex A and definitions are in Annex B.

A Review of Justice Social Work Statistics in Scotland – Survey of Users 2023 was conducted, asking users how we could improve the publications and data tables that we publish. The main recommendations were:

  • To improve the timeliness of published data.
  • For the commentary to be changed to reflect some of the requests e.g., key points at the beginning of topics and more graphs/infographics to break up text.
  • For the tables to be streamlined to allow filtering and make it easier to select different years and geographical breakdowns.
  • For there to be more data linkage. This would first require a review and likely changes to existing information governance arrangements, to ensure any future work in this area is compliant with data protection regulations.
  • To consider possible changes to the data collection method, possibly extending the use of the ProcXed.NET data platform to make data transfer between local authorities and Scottish Government more efficient.
  • To investigate and review the requests for additional data that relate to justice social work statistics.

For the 2023-24 data, we propose to split the data collected into two separate publications to improve the availability of data. Information relating to the following topics of justice social work is now planned to be published in early autumn 2024:

  • Diversion from prosecution
  • Bail information
  • Court services
  • Home detention curfew assessments
  • Structured deferred sentences
  • Throughcare
  • Pre-release reports

The remaining information on criminal justice social work reports, community payback orders and drug treatment and testing orders is planned for publication in early 2025.

Updates on progress with the recommendations from the user survey will be fed back in the justice social work statistics publication as we make progress.

In 2022-23, there was an increase in the amount of data collected for diversion from prosecution and particularly for bail. Local authorities were made aware of this during the 2022-23 collection year and some of the extra information requested was not at that point recorded in local authorities’ management information systems. As a result, the bail statistics for 2022-23 are considered ‘official statistics in development’. A number of authorities were not able to supply the full data due to the short notice of this change made by the Scottish Government and some estimates have therefore been used. Some helpful feedback has been provided from local authority data suppliers on the guidance in the statistical return for bail assessments and bail supervision cases during the collection of the 2022-23 data. This will help us improve the quality of this data in 2023-24.

Most of the time series tables which accompany this publication covers the past ten years. This is long enough to illustrate current trends. However, we also publish some additional datasets which provide national and local authority data from 2004-05. The numbers in these additional tables as well as the Scotland level tables produced alongside this publication are given unrounded but are rounded for presentational purposes in this text.


Email: justice_analysts@gov.scot

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