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Reconviction Rates in Scotland: 2009-10 Offender Cohort

Analysis of one year reconviction rates for the cohort of offenders released from a custodial sentence or receiving a non-custodial disposal in 2009-10

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5 Main findings: non-court disposals (Tables 17 and 18)

5.1 Changes were introduced as a result of the Criminal Proceedings Act 2007 and these were collectively known as summary justice reform. They were designed to take less serious cases out of the justice system earlier, and to have a complementary outcome of reducing the time that other cases proceeded through the court.

5.2 In 2007-08 a range of options became available to the police for dealing with minor offences. This included anti-social behaviour fixed penalty notices (ASBFPNs) and formal adult warnings for crimes such as breach of the peace, urinating, consuming alcohol in a public place, and for minor driving offences.

5.3 Prosecution in court is only one of a range of options available for dealing with people who have been reported to the Procurator Fiscal. Procurators Fiscal have had long standing powers to issue fiscal fines as an alternative to court prosecution for a range of offences and to offer a conditional offer of a fixed penalty to offenders for speeding offences and other road traffic related offences.

5.4 In 2007-08, following a review of the summary criminal justice system, the Scottish Parliament provided prosecutors with powers to issue an enhanced range of fiscal fines and to award compensation to victims, through fiscal compensation orders. Collectively these non-court prosecution options are known as direct measures and are utilised for less serious offences.

5.5 In 2009-10, the majority of Crown Office Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) non-court disposals were fiscal fines, followed by fiscal road traffic fixed penalties. The remaining disposals were either fiscal fines which also had a compensation requirement, or fiscal compensation orders, or some pre-Summary Justice Reform (SJR) fiscal fines.

Police disposals

5.6 Table 17 shows that 59,901 individuals were given a police disposal in 2009-10. Seventeen per cent of these were given another non-court disposal within 6 months and 25 per cent given another within one year. The majority of the police disposals in 2009-10 (80.5 per cent) were ASBFPNs. Nineteen per cent of those with an index crime of an ASBFPN in 2009-10 were given another non-court disposal within 6 months and 27 per cent given another within one year.

5.7 In 2009-10, there were 7,447 individuals given a formal adult warning, 12.4 per cent of all the police disposals. Ten per cent of those with an index crime of a formal adult warning were given another non-court disposal within 6 months, 15 per cent were given another within one year.

5.8 In 2009-10, the remaining police disposals were composed of either restorative justice warnings, warning letters, or a small number of other police warnings.

Crown Office Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) disposals

5.9 Table 18 shows that 48,912 individuals were given a COPFS disposal in 2009-10. Eleven per cent of these were given another non-court disposal within 6 months and 18 per cent within 1 year. The majority of the COPFS disposals in 2009-10 (56.8 per cent) were fiscal fines. Fifteen per cent of those with an index crime of a fiscal fine in 2009-10 were given another non-court disposal within 6 months, 23 per cent within one year.

5.10 In 2009-10, there were 17,384 individuals given a fiscal fixed penalty, 35.5 per cent of all the COPFS disposals. Six per cent of those with an index crime of a fiscal fixed penalty were given another non-court disposal within 6 months, 9 per cent within one year.

5.11 In 2009-10, the remaining COPFS disposals were either composed of fines with a compensation requirement, or a compensation requirement excluding a fine, or a small number of pre-Summary Justice Reform (SJR) fixed penalties.

5.12 At present information is not collected on fiscal work orders in the Scottish Offenders Index and they are therefore not included in this publication. We are currently assessing the feasibility of including this information in future publications.

Contact

Email: Howard Hooper

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