Information

Reconviction rates in Scotland: 2016-2017 offender cohort

This publication provides analyses of trends in reconviction statistics up to the latest cohort of 2016 to 2017.

This document is part of a collection


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 individuals who are given a further non-court disposal within a year of receiving 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, as the non-court dataset is independent of the court convictions dataset.

2.1 Police disposals

(Table 15 and Table 19)

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 individual 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.
  • Actions which are used specifically for young people (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.

The repeat non-court disposal rate for police disposals in 2016-17 was 18.5% (Table 19).

Of all the individuals given a non-court disposal (by the police or COPFS) in 2016-17, those given a Formal Adult Warning had the highest repeat non-court disposal rate (25.0%) and the highest average number of repeat non-court disposals per individual (0.47) of any non-court disposal, which is a large increase from 10.8% and 0.15, respectively, in 2015-16. However, as they have been replaced by Recorded Police Warnings and were only given to a small number of individuals (for offences prior to 11th January 2016), they are not directly comparable with previous years (Table 15).

Early and Effective Interventions (EEI) had the second highest repeat non-court disposal rate and average numbers of repeat non-court disposals in 2016-17. Although note that this was behind the Formal Adult Warnings, which as noted above, were only given to a small number of individuals in 2016-17. There has also been an increase in the number of repeat non-court disposals for individuals given an EEI over the past year. Between 2015-16 and 2016-17, the repeat non-court disposal rate for EEIs increased by 1 percentage point from 23.6% to 24.6%. The average number of repeat non-court disposals per individual for EEIs increased by 12% from 0.41 to 0.46 (Table 15).

The repeat non-court disposal rate for Recorded Police Warnings was 15.3% in 2016-17, and the average number of repeat non-court disposals per individual was 0.20. These figures were slightly higher than 2015-16, however, as these disposal were only in place for the last 3 months of 2015-16, the two years are not directly comparable (Table 15).

The repeat non-court disposal rate for ASBFPNs was the same in 2016-17 and 2015-16 at 20.4%. The average number of repeat non-court disposals decreased by 9% over the past year from 0.35 to 0.32 (Table 15). Repeat non-court disposals for ASBFPNs are now much lower than they were four or more years ago. It should also be noted that the cohort size is much lower than it was historically, with the cohort size halving in the past year alone. The decrease in cohort size may be due to Police Scotland issuing revised guidance around the use of ASBFPNs, and there may be some displacement by the use of Recorded Police Warnings in the past year.

2.2 Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) disposals

(Table 16 and Table 19)

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.
  • Fiscal warnings

There are further actions that COPFS can take that are not included in this report, such 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.

The repeat non-court disposal rate for COPFS disposals was 14.5% in 2016-17 (Table 19). Between 2008-09 and 2016-17, 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. Over the past year, all of the COPFS disposals saw either a decrease or remained the same for both measures (Table 16).

Of those individuals given a COPFS disposal in 2016-17, those given a Fiscal Fine had the highest non-court disposal rate (18.5%), and the highest average number of repeat non-court disposals per individual (0.24). Individuals given a Fiscal Fixed Penalty had the lowest repeat non-court disposal rate (5.6%) and the lowest average number of repeat non-court disposals per individual (0.06) (Table 16).

Over the past year from 2015-16 to 2016-17, the repeat non-court disposal rate for Fiscal Fines decreased by 0.9 percentage points from 19.4% to 18.5%, and the average number of repeat non-court disposals decreased from 0.26 to 0.24. For Fiscal Combined Fines With Compensation, the repeat non-court disposal rate decreased by 2.9 percentage points from 20.0% to 17.2%, and the average number of repeat non-court disposals decreased by 17% from 0.24 to 0.20. For Fiscal Compensation Orders, the repeat non-court disposal rate of 14.9% in 2016-17 was 2.3 percentage points lower than the figure of 17.2% in 2015-16, and the average number of repeat non-court disposals decreased by 18% from 0.22 to 0.18. Both repeat measures for Fiscal Fixed Penalties were the same in 2015-16 and 2016-17 (Table 16).

Fiscal Warnings have been included for the first time in this bulletin and figures are provided from where we have data of sufficient quality from 2012-13 to the latest year of 2016-17. Both measures of repeat non-court disposals for Fiscal Warnings were the second lowest of any non-court disposal in 2016-17 after Fiscal Fixed Penalties. The repeat non-court disposal rate was 13.5% in 2016-17, which was slightly lower (0.4 percentage points) than the figure of 13.9% in 2015-16. The average number of repeat non-court disposals was the same (0.18) in 2016-17 and 2015-16. Over the past four years, repeat non-court disposals for Fiscal Warnings have been similar each year, and were slightly higher five years ago in 2012-13 (Table 16).

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. Repeat non-court disposal statistics for FWOs will not be available until this investigation has concluded.

2.3 Characteristics of individuals given non-court disposals

Table 17 shows the repeat non-court disposal rate and average number of repeat non-court disposals from 2008-09 to 2016-17 by gender and Table 18 shows them by age. In Tables 18, all the types of non-court disposal are combined together. Table 19 shows the percentage of individuals given a repeat non-court disposal in 2016-17 for each type of non-court disposal, by age and gender.

Like reconvictions in court, males and younger people are more likely to receive further non-court disposals than females and older people (Table 18, and Table 19).

17.4% of males who received a non-court disposal in 2015-16 were given another non-court disposal within a year, compared to 13.8% of females (Table 17). The figure has been decreasing for males in each of the past 4 years, whereas they have been relatively stable for females over the same period.

The percentage of individuals given a repeat non-court disposal decreases with increasing age, with a repeat non-court disposal rate of 22.1% for under 21s, compared to 12.9% for the over 40s (Table 18). Repeat non-court disposals decreased across all age groups between 2015-16 and 2016-17, with the exception of the over 40 age group which had the same repeat non-court disposal rate in both years, and had a small decrease in the average number of repeat non-court disposals.

Contact

Email: Justice_Analysts@gov.scot

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