The Vision for Justice in Scotland
We set out our transformative vision of the future justice system for Scotland, spanning the full journey of criminal, civil and administrative justice, with a focus on creating safer communities and shifting societal attitudes and circumstances which perpetuate crime and harm.
Justice in Scotland – for you with you at heart
- Equality and Human Rights
- Person-Centred and Trauma-Informed
- Collaboration and Partnership
A Just, Safe & Resilient Scotland
We address the on-going impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to renew and transform justice
We have a society in which people feel, and are, safer in their communities
Prevention and Early Intervention
We work together to address the underlying causes of crime and support everyone to live full and healthy lives
Person-Centred and Trauma-Informed
We have effective, modern and person-centred approaches to justice in which everyone can have trust, including as victims, those accused of crimes, and as individuals in civil disputes
We support rehabilitation, use custody only where there is no alternative and work to reduce reoffending and revictimisation
Justice Portfolio - Changes and Challenges
The number of crimes recorded by the police has more than halved since the peak in 1991, although there has been relative stability in recent years.
Police-recorded sexual crime has increased by 78% between 2011-12 and 2020-21.
Recorded Crime in Scotland
The number of cases concluded in court have recently returned to pre-pandemic levels.
However, there remains a large backlog of trials outstanding in courts.
Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service Official Statistics
People are more likely to feel safe in their communities than they were a decade ago – the proportion reporting feeling safe when walking alone in their local area at night was higher in 2019/20 (77%) than in 2008/09 (66%).
Differences remain in the population. For example, women, people in the 15% of most deprived areas, those living in urban areas, and victims of crime were less likely to feel safe, more likely to be worried about specific types of crime, and more likely to think they would experience crime in the coming year.
Scottish Crime and Justice Survey
The proportion of community sentences issued as a main penalty for all convictions is the highest it has been for the last ten years.
22% of all convictions were issued a community sentence as a main penalty in 2019-20, up from 19% in 2018-19 and 14% in 2010-11.
Criminal Proceedings in Scotland
There is considerable variation between local authorities ranging from Clackmannanshire (68.7 per 10,000) to East Renfrewshire (15.9 per 10,000) in 2019-20.
Fewer individuals spent time in prison in 2019-20 than did ten years previously – a fall overall of 18%.
Scottish Prison Population Official Statistics
While the prison population has fallen overall over the pandemic period, the proportion on remand has grown significantly, posing additional challenges for population management.
SPS-JAS Management Information Feed
Reconvictions from CPO
The reconviction rate for offenders who received a Community Payback Order (CPO) fell between 2011-12 and 2018-19. Over the same period, the average number of reconvictions per offender for those given a CPO has fallen from 0.69 to 0.51.
The overall reconviction rate increased by 1.9 percentage points over the last year from 26.4% in 2017-18 to 28.3% in 2018-19. The average number of reconvictions per offender increased by 6% in the same period from 0.47 to 0.50.
Reconviction Rates in Scotland
Referrals of children to the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration on the grounds of an offence, down by almost 60% over last 10 years.
SCRA Online Statistical Dashboard
Almost half (47%) of adult respondents to the SPS prisoner survey in 2019 reported that they had been physically abused in their home as a child, 58% suffered verbal abuse and 62% reported having been bullied. Nearly a quarter (24%) had a member of their household serve time during their childhood.
Scottish Prison Service Prisoner Survey
Civil justice proceedings
There has been a long-term reduction in the number of initiated civil cases in Scottish Courts.
Civil Justice Statistics in Scotland
Some groups in the population were more likely to experience civil law problems than the general population. For example, an estimated 36% of those who are disabled experienced a civil law problem compared with 26% of those who are not disabled.
Scottish Crime and Justice Survey
We have made some good progress but challenges remain. When we listen to those who have used the justice system, their experiences are mixed.
"You do the time with your family and that’s just how it is. It doesn’t just affect the person; it affects everybody."
Jane, visiting her mum in prison
"[The police officer] did a really nice thing, that was quite transformative […] Every single day for ten days she phoned […] There wasn’t actually anything going on, but she just kept phoning, every day, for two minutes, she was like, just to see how you are, are you alright, and it was very strengthening"
Nat, child sexual abuse and rape victim-survivor
"It [community service] wis brilliant, I loved it. It was, I was getting something out of it, see efter the programme’s done, and we done it I look back, an I wis in the papers and aw that and we done this park fir a nursery, it wis a nursery school, eh, and we ripped the park right back to its four walls an rebuilt it, and see if ye could see this man, it wis beautiful an that, it wis something else, big flowerbeds, everythin, know. We put our heart and soul in it. There wis 20 of us that put our heart and soul into it."
35-year-old man, imprisoned for 180 days, breach of the peace
"You know, everyone deserves to be safe or feel safe in public and not have to feel that they have to worry about everyone else. And, you know, punishment is not about making other people suffer but it’s, you know, rehabilitating of their behaviour and making sure they don’t do it again. And, you know, helping them."
Chad, participant in young people’s attitudes to youth sentencing
"Trauma robbed me of my ability to understand acronyms, to remember the names of organisations and individuals ... As a victim the rest was white noise interspersed with being retraumatised by the system."
Member of a Victim Support Scotland lived experience group
"I think that one of the barriers is that some of the best interventions are too far into the justice system. You’ve got to ask why people can’t get that [support] at an earlier stage."
Third sector diversion expert
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