Reconviction rates at lowest in over a decade


Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has welcomed statistics which show reconviction rates in Scotland are now at their lowest level in the past 13 years.

The statistics, Reconviction Rates in Scotland: 2009-10 Offender Cohorts, show:


The one year reconviction rate and the one year reconviction frequency rate are now at their lowest level in each of the last 13 years.

  • There has been a marked fall in the one year reconviction rate for the under 21 age group since 1997-98, down 6 percentage points over the period.
  • The one year reconviction rate for offenders given Drug Treatment and Testing Orders (DTTO) has fallen 16 percentage points in the last six years.
  • The one year reconviction rate for those sentenced to a prison sentence of three months or less is 58.4 per cent. This compares to 23.9 per cent for those given a Community Service Order.

Mr MacAskill said:

“We are working hard to make our streets safer and these latest statistics showing that reoffending rates are at their lowest level in over a decade are to be welcomed.

“It is testament to the efforts of our police forces, courts and other justice partners right across Scotland who are doing all they can to get offenders back onto the straight and narrow and stop them from committing further crimes upon release.

“At a time when the UK Government plans to cut the justice budget by 23 per cent, this administration has increased spending on community justice by 17 per cent over six years, and we are seeing the benefits in terms of the lowest level of recorded crime in 37 years, and falling reconviction rates – at their lowest level for over a decade.

“However, whilst these figures are encouraging, reoffending rates are still too high and we want to build on these latest statistics to reduce reoffending rates even further. That is exactly why we have taken action over recent years to take forward and implement the recommendations of the McLeish Prisons Commission and why we have brought in the new Community Payback Order.

“What is again made clear by these statistics is that short term prison sentences or three months or less simply don’t work.

“Those released from a prison sentence of three months or less are reconvicted three times more often than those who get Community Service Orders and it is clear that simply locking these types of low level offenders is not the answer.

“Prison is and always will be the right place for serious and dangerous offenders, but what the all the evidence shows, and what today’s statistics reinforce, is that sending low level offenders out to pay back the community through manual labour, backed by work to address the underlying issues which fuel the crime is far more effective.

“Today’s statistics build on the strong progress being made in Scotland’s justice system, with recorded crime down, knife crime down, a record number of police officers on the streets and serious criminals now being punished through the longest prison sentences in a decade. It is encouraging to see, but there will be no let up in our efforts to reduce crime even further.”