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

3 Diversion from prosecution

(Tables 1 , 3 & 4)

Diversion from prosecution is a process by which prosecutors are able to refer a case to a local authority or other identified agency as a means of addressing the underlying causes of offending.

The relevant prosecution policy of the Lord Advocate for adults is that diversion should be considered for all individuals where there is an identifiable need that has contributed to their alleged offending behaviour, and which is best met through support, treatment or other action. Where the individual is under 18 years of age, and not open to being referred to the Children’s Reporter, there is a presumption that an alternative to prosecution will be in the public interest. Diversion is actively considered where there is an identifiable need. In diversion cases, a Procurator Fiscal may decide to waive prosecution at the outset or to defer a decision on prosecution pending the successful completion of the diversion.

The number of diversion from prosecution cases commenced fell by two per cent between 2021-22 and 2022-23 to around 2,600. This was, however, the second highest level in the last ten years.

During 2022-23, there were 4,800 referrals made to local authorities and 4,400 assessments. Sixty-one per cent of the assessments (2,700) progressed to cases commenced.

A total of 2,000 cases were successfully completed in 2022-23, the second highest level in the last ten years. In addition, there were 140 cases commenced which were subject to extended periods of diversion in 2022-23.

Between 2021-22 and 2022-23, the number of cases commenced rose for those aged between 18 and 20 and those aged over 40. Numbers fell for all other age groups with the highest fall, of 21 per cent, for those aged between 21 and 30. Between 2020-21 and 2021-22, it was those aged 21 to 30 who had shown the largest rise, of 39 per cent.

By far the most likely people to get diversion from prosecution, as a proportion of the overall Scotland population, were those aged 16 to 17. They accounted for 25 per cent of people getting diversion from prosecution in 2022-23 but only three per cent of the Scottish population aged 16 to 70. Similarly, 18-20 years olds accounted for 15 per cent of diversion cases in 2022-23 but only five per cent of the population aged 16 to 70.

In the last four years, just over two-thirds of cases commenced were for men. In 2022-23, 62 per cent were for people who were either unemployed or economically inactive.


Email: justice_analysts@gov.scot

Back to top