Reconviction Rates in Scotland: 2010-11 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 2010-11

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7 Number and type of previous convictions: 2002-03 to 2011-12

(Table 16 and Table 17)

7.1 This section presents information on previous convictions for the 40,992 individual offenders who were convicted on at least one occasion in 2011-12 (Table 16 and Table 17). These two tables are compiled on a different basis to the remainder of this publication. They are constructed from criminal proceedings data rather than the Scottish Offenders Index (see Section 12.2.1).

7.2 Of the 40,992 individuals convicted at least once in 2011-12 for a crime or relevant offence, 67 per cent had accumulated at least one previous conviction, whilst 14 per cent had over 10 previous convictions.

7.3 Sentencing is influenced by offending history as well as the circumstances of a particular case. Table 16 shows that:

  • first time offenders tend to get fines (42 per cent) or caution/admonition (29 per cent). Community sentences11 account for 22 per cent and custodial sentences for 7 per cent.
  • sporadic offenders with one or two convictions in the past 10 years tend to get fines (43 per cent), community sentences (26 per cent) or caution/admonition (21 per cent). Custodial sentences account for 9 per cent.
  • those with a more regular conviction history (between 3 and 10 convictions in the past 10 years) are somewhat more likely to get a custodial sentence (23 per cent), although most still get fines (32 per cent) and community sentences (26 per cent).
  • those with more than 10 convictions in the past 10 years tend to get custodial sentences (46 per cent) or other sentences (about 18 per cent).

7.4 The number of prior convictions for serious offences is strongly linked to the likelihood of getting a custodial sentence: about 13 per cent of those with no prior solemn convictions get a custodial sentence, rising to about 40 per cent and 63 per cent for those with 1-2 and 3-10 solemn convictions respectively.

7.5 Over time there has been very little change in the number of prolific offenders (Table 17). Thirteen per cent of offenders in 2002-03 had over 10 previous convictions in the past 10-year period, and this has fluctuated between 12 and 14 per cent for subsequent years. Fourteen per cent of offenders had over 10 previous convictions in the latest 10-year period of 2002-03 to 2011-12.


Email: Howard Hooper

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