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This is an archived section of the Scottish Government website. External links, forms and search may not work on archived pages and content/contact details are likely to be out of date.

This page relates to the 2007 version of the National Performance Framework. Information about the current version of the NPF is available on the Scotland Performs Home Page.

SP Two columns

Current Status

After a period of relative stability between 2002-03 and 2005-06 where the two year reconviction rate fluctuated around the 45% mark, the rate for the 2007-08 cohort has fallen to 42.4%. This represents a fall of 2.2 percentage points against the baseline figure of 44.6% for 2004-05 cohort, which means that the target level has been achieved for the 2007/08 cohort.

More on reconviction rates

National Indicator


Reduce overall reconviction rates by 2 percentage points by 2011

Reduce overall reconviction rates by 2 percentage points by 2011

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Why is this National Indicator important?

Crime affects us all. By reducing criminal reoffending, we reduce the emotional, social and economic impact of crime on our communities - and enable offenders to make a more positive contribution to society. We want to build safer and stronger communities, where offenders are made to take responsibility for their actions and given the opportunity, where appropriate, to make amends for the damage they have caused. Reconviction rates are one of the main ways of measuring how well we are managing offenders in our criminal justice system.

What will influence this National Indicator?

The factors that impact on reconviction rates are many and complex, and will include wider economic and social trends. However, there are a number of key factors which, if effectively addressed, should lead to a reduction in reoffending. These include:

  • Levels of education, training and employment.
  • Alcohol and drug misuse.
  • Physical and mental health.
  • Homelessness.
  • Patterns of offending behaviour.
  • Community, peer and family relationships.
  • Victimisation and exposure to offending behaviours - there is growing evidence of a correlation between the likelihood of young people offending and the experience of victimisation. More effective responses to the victimisation of young people may deter some from resorting to offending behaviour.

These factors have an impact both on an individual's motivation and choice to continue offending, as well as on their motivation and ability to take positive steps towards living a more constructive and law-abiding life.

What is the Government's role?

The National Strategy for the Management of Offenders sets out the Government's framework for reducing reoffending. Through legislation, we have established eight Community Justice Authorities (CJAs) across Scotland. Each CJA is tasked with working in partnership with local key agencies, including local authorities, Scottish Prison Service, health boards, police and voluntary agencies. With support from the National Advisory Body on Offender Management, we ensure that CJAs are making the most effective use of their joint local resources to address the critical factors that influence reconviction.

The Reducing Reoffending Programme

The Reducing Reoffending Programme was established in January 2009 to shape the future of Scotland's Criminal Justice System by delivering changes that will give Scotland a modern coherent penal policy based on a credible and robust package of community penalties.

Shortly after taking office, the Cabinet Secretary for Justice announced a review of community penalties and set up an independent Prisons Commission to look at the purpose of prison. 'The Report of the Scottish Prisons Commission: Scotland's choice', published on 1 July 2008, contains 23 main recommendations that the Commission considered would contribute to achieving a coherent penal policy.

'Protecting Scotland's Communities', published in December 2008, accepted the spirit of the Commission's recommendations as the basis for Scotland's future offender management policy. It concluded that reducing reoffending is the best way to reduce offending and protect our communities.

The Cabinet Secretary is committed to a programme of action that will deliver a system where prisons are used for serious and dangerous offenders with a strong and imaginative framework of alternatives to custody for low tariff, repeat offenders. The intention is to deliver a radical change in the way offenders are dealt with, with an emphasis on improving the immediacy, appropriateness and effectiveness of punishment.

A programme structure was adopted to deliver this policy and as such, Scotland's future offender management policy is currently being taken forward either in practice or in principle through the Reducing Reoffending Programme.

The Reducing Reoffending Programme is a shared enterprise to put in place the building blocks for a credible and effective system of community justice. The programme will deliver a series of technical changes, that cumulatively will: introduce a new, tough and efficient system of community penalties as an alternative to short term custodial sentences; change the way that the criminal justice system assesses risk; improve the quality and flow of information about offenders; and strengthen the links between rehabilitation programmes in the custodial and community settings. This will create a new system that allows much greater use of community sentencing, and will in time, will lead to reductions in reoffending and, also in the size of the Scottish prison population.

How are we performing?

The two-year reconviction rate has decreased by 1.7 percentage points from 44.1 per cent for the 2006-07 cohort to 42.4 per cent for the 2007-08 cohort. Overall there has been a fall of 2.2 percentage points against the baseline figure of 44.6% for 2004-05 cohort.

Two year reconviction rates for offenders released from custody

Source: Scottish Government Justice Analytical Services, Scottish Offenders Index

View data on reconviction rates


This evaluation is based on: any difference within +/- 1 percentage points of last year's figure suggests that the position is more likely to be maintaining than showing any change. A decrease of 1 percentage points or more suggests the position is improving; whereas an increase of 1 percentage points or more suggests the position is worsening.

For information on general methodological approach, please click here.

Further Information

Scotland Performs Technical Note

Statistics Topic Page

Who are our partners?

Related Strategic Objective(s)

Wealthier and Fairer

Safer and Stronger

View National Indicator data

Downloadable document:

Data for National indicator on ReconvictionsData for National indicator on Reconvictions [XLS, 31.5 kb: 30 Aug 2011]
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Performance Improving


Performance Maintaining


Performance Worsening

no info

Performance data currently being collected