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

9 Drug treatment and testing orders

(Tables 2 & 19 to 23 and Chart 7)

The drug treatment and testing order (DTTO) is available to courts (excluding justice of the peace courts). It is an intensive disposal for people with substance-related offending who might otherwise get a custodial sentence. The less intensive DTTO II is available to courts in City of Edinburgh, East Lothian, Midlothian and Highland. DTTO IIs accounted for 27 per cent of the DTTOs in these areas in 2022-23.

Chart 7 : Drug treatment and testing orders have generally fallen over the last ten years.

Drug treatment and testing order commencements, terminations and completions/discharges, Scotland, 2013-14 to 2022-23

A line graph covering the years 2013-14 to 2022-23. Drug treatment and testing orders have generally fallen over the last ten years.

During the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, a large number of court cases could not be conducted. As a result, the number of DTTOs commenced was lower in both 2020-21 and 2021-22 than in the pre-pandemic years. Between 2021-22 and 2022-23, the number commenced fell by 18 per cent to 300, the second lowest level in the last decade (Chart 7).

The main driver behind the fall in 2022-23 was that, for several months during 2022 and 2023, the DTTO service in Edinburgh was suspended to new assessments/ orders. This was due to significant clinical staffing issues and, as a result, the service did not have the capacity to provide treatment for additional people coming into the service. This reduced numbers by 68 per cent compared to last year for City of Edinburgh and the neighbouring Midlothian and East Lothian council areas. The latter two councils had a partnership agreement in place to make use of Edinburgh DTTO services. At the point the service was suspended to new assessments/orders, the service to people already subject to DTTOs was unchanged, for both clinical treatment and social work support. During this suspension, courts were able to impose community payback orders, which can allow people to engage with mainstream substance use services and address other factors related to their drug use and offending. In the rest of Scotland, the number of DTTOs commenced rose slightly, by three per cent.

In every one of the last ten years, people aged 31 to 40 have been the most likely to receive a DTTO. In relation to Scotland’s population, 1.7 people per 10,000 for this age range got a DTTO in 2022-23. Compared to the other age ranges, those aged 25 and under and over 40 were the least likely in 2022-23 to receive a DTTO (0.4 and 0.5 people per 10,000 population respectively).

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

The average length of a DTTO was generally around 17 or 18 months in the last ten years.

There were 400 DTTOs in existence on 31 March 2023. This was five per cent lower than in 2021-22 and the lowest in any of the last ten years. The reduction in the numbers being imposed in Edinburgh and the surrounding area (see earlier in this section) was undoubtedly a factor in this.

Timescales for implementation (Table 20)

In 2022-23, for DTTOs where first direct contact was known, 72 per cent had contact within one working day of the order being imposed. In ten per cent of cases, it took longer than five working days for this to take place.

Where known, the first case management meeting took place within five working days in 2021-22 for 86 per cent of orders. In eight per cent of these cases, it took longer than ten working days for the first meeting to take place.

These proportions can fluctuate from year to year due to the small number of orders involved. The figures for 2020-21 to 2022-23 are broadly similar to previous years.

Therefore, while implementation may have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, these particular trends have remained stable.

Terminations (Tables 2 & 21 to 23)

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

The completion rate for DTTOs reached a high of 55 per cent in 2014-15, before falling to 39 per cent in 2019-20. This completion rate is calculated in the same way as for CPOs. It is done by adding together the number of successful completions and early discharges, then dividing this by the total orders terminated less orders which were transferred out of a local authority to a different area.

The very high rate of 66 per cent in 2020-21 was likely to have been influenced by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Particular factors may have been the type of cases where it had been possible for the orders to finish and the fact that, over some periods, it was not possible to conduct testing. The completion rate was 49 per cent in 2021-22 and rose only slightly to 50 per cent in 2022-23. Caution is advised in drawing any conclusions on completion rates over time.

Among orders terminated which were not transferred out, the proportion revoked due to review and due to breach in 2022-23 were 26 and 14 per cent respectively. A custodial sentence was imposed in 45 per cent of revoked cases in 2022-23.

Seventy-two per cent of all DTTOs terminated had no breach applications in 2022-23. Ninety 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).


Email: justice_analysts@gov.scot

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