Statistical Bulletin Crime and Justice Series: Criminal Proceedings in Scottish Courts, 2006/07

Criminal Proceedings in Scottish Courts 2006-07

2 Key Points for 2006/07

Court proceedings

  • A total of 153,900 persons were proceeded against in court, an increase of 5 per cent on 2005/06 and the highest figure since 1998/99.


  • Ninety per cent of persons proceeded against in court had at least one charge proved against them or a plea of guilty accepted, a total of 138,800 convictions.


  • The total number of convictions was 138,800, an increase of 5 per cent compared with 2005/06. Of these, 61 per cent took place in sheriff summary courts.
  • The number of persons convicted in the district and stipendiary magistrates courts (48,300) represented an increase of 2 per cent compared with 2005/06 but a decrease of 27 per cent compared with 1997/98.


  • The majority (85,000 or 61 per cent) of all convictions resulted in a financial penalty. Most of these were fines, although there were also 1,400 compensation orders issued. The average amount of fine imposed was £211 (excluding fines imposed upon companies). The average value of compensation orders imposed was £335.
  • The number of custodial sentences imposed by courts was just under 18,200, a 9 per cent increase from 2005/06, and the highest figure recorded during the last 10 years. In both 2004/05 and 2005/06 community sentences outnumbered custodial sentences, however in 2006/07 there have been more custodial sentences. Over 80 per cent of all custodial sentences were for six months or less. The average length of determinate custodial sentences was just under seven months, slightly less than in previous years although the figure for 2006/07 may be an underestimate due to late recording of some High Court disposals.
  • The number of convictions resulting in a community sentence was just under 17,400, similar to 2005/06. Community sentences mainly comprised sentences of a probation order (9,200) or a community service order (5,800).
  • Female offenders accounted for 15 per cent of all convictions, 8 per cent of custodial convictions, 15 per cent of community sentences, 15 per cent of monetary sentences, and 26 per cent of other sentences (mainly admonitions).

Characteristics of individual offenders

  • The peak age for conviction was 18. Seven per cent of 18 year old males in the Scottish population were convicted for a crime or relevant offence (such as common assault or breach of the peace) on at least one occasion during 2006/07; the corresponding proportion for females was 1 per cent.
  • Of the 53,550 individuals convicted at least once in 2006/07 for a crime or relevant offence, 65 per cent had at least one such previous conviction in the previous ten years; 12 per cent had over ten such previous convictions.

Bail Orders and Offences

  • There were 63,400 bail orders made, an increase of 11 per cent from 2005/06 and 34 per cent from 2002/03. However, the number of bail orders granted expressed as a percentage of the numbers of crimes cleared up by the police has shown an overall increase from 7 per cent in 2002/03 to 8 per cent in 2006/07.
  • About half (51 per cent) of bail orders made related to the main charges of crimes of dishonesty (20 per cent of all orders), common assault (20 per cent of all orders), and breach of the peace (12 per cent of all orders). Males accounted for 84 per cent of all orders made. Most bail orders made were issued at Sheriff Courts (89 per cent of all orders made).
  • Of the total of 187,800 offences with a charge proved in 2006/07, 29,000 (15 per cent) had a bail aggravator recorded against them, indicating that these offences were committed while the offender was on bail, an increase of 1 percentage point from 2005/06. Crimes and offence categories with a relatively high percentage of bail aggravator recording include robbery (34 per cent), 'other' crimes of indecency (33 per cent), crimes against public justice (32 per cent) and crimes of dishonesty (28 per cent). Crimes and offences with a relatively low percentage of bail aggravator recording include lewd and indecent behaviour (5 per cent) and motor vehicle offences (7 per cent).

Motor vehicle offences

  • The total number of motor vehicle offences recorded by the police was 375,000, a decrease of 1 per cent on the total for 2005/06. Speeding offences accounted for 44 per cent of these offences.
  • The police made an estimated 223,500 conditional offers of a fixed penalty, a decrease of 7 per cent compared with 2006/07. Sixty-three per cent of the offers related to speeding offences.
  • The number of motor vehicle offences which resulted in a charge proved in court was 67,200, a decrease of 1 per cent compared with 2005/06. A fine was the most common penalty, imposed for 80 per cent of charges proved or accepted. In addition to the main penalty imposed, 32 per cent of offences resulted in a disqualification from driving and a further 48 per cent in an endorsement of the offender's driving licence.
  • The average fine imposed for motor vehicle offences with a charge proved was £182, while the average length of driving ban imposed was 20 months.
  • An estimated 105,300 fixed penalty notices were issued by the police for stationary vehicle offences, 62 per cent of which were for parking and waiting offences and 32 per cent for failing to display a road tax disc. The total number of fixed penalty notices increased by 6 per cent compared with 2005/06, however much of the long term decrease in the number of notices issued in recent years has reflected the decriminalisation of parking infringements in particular areas.
  • The total number of penalty charge notices for parking infringements issued in 2006/07 by those councils which operated these civil penalty schemes was 481,900, a decrease of 12 per cent compared with 2005/06. Revenues from these notices and from vehicle removals totalled £13.6 million in 2006/07.
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