2. Main findings: Repeat non-court disposals
Changes were introduced as a result of the Criminal Proceedings Act 2007 and these were collectively known as the Summary Justice Reform. They were designed to take less serious cases out of the justice system at an earlier stage before going to court, to improve the efficiency of court processes. These non-court prosecution options are used to deal with less serious offences, and include both police and COPFS disposals.
This section provides statistics on the repeat numbers of non-court disposals for individuals within a year after they were given an initial non-court disposal. Two measures are presented, the repeat non-court disposal rate, which is the percentage of offenders who are given a further non-court disposal within a year of revcieving a police or COPFS disposal, and the average number of repeat non-court disposals per individual. These measures are analogous to the reconviction rate and average number of reconvictions per offender. This section does not include convictions and reconvictions dealt with in court.
2.1 Police disposals(Table 14)
The following non-court disposals are available to the police when dealing with a case directly:
- Anti-Social Behaviour Fixed Penalty Notices (ASBFPNs) as provided for in the Antisocial Behaviour etc (Scotland) Act 2004 for a range of offences including drunken-related behaviours and playing loud music;
- Formal Adult Warnings are for minor offences where a warning letter is issued to the offender and were in force until 11th January 2016, when they were replaced and extended by Recorded Police Warnings which cover a wider range of offences. Recorded Police Warnings are included for the first time in this year’s bulletin.
- Actions which are used specifically for juveniles (aged 8 to 17) such as Restorative Justice Warnings and Early and Effective Interventions (EEI).
There are further options available to the police that we are not able to provide data on, such as conditional offers of a fixed penalty notice for motor vehicle offences. More information is available in Annex D of the Criminal Proceedings publication.
18.6% of individuals in 2015-16 who received a non-court disposal from the police, such as a warning or fine, went on to receive another non-court disposal within a year (Table 18).
Of all the individuals given a non-court disposal (by the police or COPFS) in 2015-16, those given a Restorative Justice Warning had the highest repeat non-court disposal rate (25.5%) and the highest average number of repeat non-court disposals per individual (0.49) of any non-court disposal, an increase from 21.9% and 0.33, respectively, in 2014-15. As they are now given to a small number of individuals, this relatively high rate over the past two years may reflect a shift in the type of individuals that receive these disposals (Table 14).
Repeat non-court disposals for ASBFPNs and Formal Adult Warnings both fell between 2014-15 and 2015-16, which is the 3rd year in a row that both have decreased (Table 14). For ASBFPNs the average number of repeat non-court disposals per individual fell by 21% from 0.42 in 2014-15 to 0.33 in 2015-16, and Formal Adult Warnings fell 19% from 0.16 to 0.13 over the same period. Note that Formal Adult Warnings were only in place for just over nine months of 2015-16 before they were discontinued, which may have some effect on the repeat rates.
There has been an increase in the number of repeat non-court disposals for individuals given an Early and Effective Intervention (EEI) over the past year. Between 2014-15 and 2015-16 the percentage of individuals given another non-court disposal within a year of receiving an EEI increased slightly by 0.7 percentage points from 22.6% to 23.3%. The average number of non-court disposals per individual within a year of receiving an EEI increased by 8% from 0.37 to 0.40 (Table 14).
Repeat non-court disposals for Recorded Police Warnings have been published for the first time this year since their introduction at the start of 2016. The repeat non-court disposal rate was 13.6% in 2015-16, and the average number of repeat non-court disposals per individual was 0.17. However, these were only in place for just the last 3 months of 2015-16, so we will not have a fully accurate picture of the repeat rates of this disposal until next year when a full year of data will be available (Table 14).
2.2 Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) disposals (Table 15)
These non-court disposals are available to COPFS:
- Fiscal fines of between £50 and £300;
- Compensation orders of up to £5,000;
- Fixed penalties of between £50 and £300, generally issued for motor vehicle offences.
There are further actions that COPFS can take that are not included in this report such as fiscal warnings, as well as diverting cases to social work and other agencies and referrals to the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA). More information is available in Annex D of the Criminal Proceedings publication.
15.1% of individuals in 2015-16 who received a non-court disposal from the COPFS, such as a warning or fine, went on to receive another non-court disposal within a year (Table 18).
Of those individuals given a COPFS disposal in 2015-16, those given a Fiscal Combined Fine had the highest percentage of individuals who received another non-court disposal (18.8%), and individuals given a Fiscal Fine had the highest average number of non-court disposals per individual (0.24). Individuals given a Fiscal Fixed Penalty had the lowest percentage of individuals who received another non-court disposal (4.9%) and the lowest average number of non-court disposals per individual (0.05) (Table 15).
Between 2008-09 and 2015-16, all COPFS disposals have seen a decrease in the repeat non-court disposal rate and the average number of repeat non-court disposals per individual. Three COPFS disposals also saw a decrease in these measures between 2014-15 and 2015-16. For Fiscal Fines, the repeat non-court disposal rate decreased by 2.9 percentage points from 21.3% to 18.4%, and the average number of repeat non-court disposals decreased by 23% from 0.31 to 0.24. For Fiscal Fixed Penalties, the repeat non-court disposal rate decreased by 1.5 percentage points from 6.4% to 4.9%, and there was a slight decrease in the average number of repeat non-court disposals from 0.07 to 0.05. For Fiscal Compensation Orders, the repeat non-court disposal rate (15.2%) and the average number of repeat non-court disposals (0.20) were slightly lower than last year’s figures (15.3% and 0.22, respectively).
The repeat non-court disposal rate for Fiscal Combined Fines with Compensation increased by 1.7 percentage points in the past year, from 17.1% in 2014-15 to 18.8% in 2015-16, and there was a slight increase in the average number of repeat non-court disposals, from 0.22 to 0.23 in the same period.
Fiscal Work Orders (FWOs) were introduced across Scotland in April 2015. The process of recording these disposals is currently being investigated for the Criminal Proceedings publication. Reconviction statistics for FWOs will not be available until this investigation has concluded.
2.3 Characteristics of individuals given non-court disposals
This year, for the first time, we have published the repeat non-court disposal measures by age and gender. Table 16 shows the rate of repeat non-court disposals and average number of repeat non-court disposals from 2008-09 to 2015-16, by gender and Table 17 shows them by age. In Tables 16 and 17, all the types of non-court disposal are combined together. Table 18 shows the percentage of individuals given a repeat non-court disposal in 2015-16 for each type of non-court disposal, by age and gender.
Like reconvictions in court, males and younger offenders are more likely to receive further non-court disposals than females and older offenders (Table 16, Table 17, and Table 18). 17.9% of males who received a non-court disposal in 2015-16 were given another non-court disposal within a year, compared to 13.4% of females (Table 16). The percentage of individuals given a repeat non-court disposal decreased with age, with a repeat non-court disposal rate of 21.9% for under 21s, compared to 12.8% for the over 40s (Table 17). Tables 16 and 17 show that repeat rates across all non-court disposals have fallen for both genders and all age groups between 2008-09 and 2015-16, and over the past year.