Criminal reoffending at 17-year-low

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Offender in Community Payback vestImage source, bbc
Image caption,
Those released from short jail sentences were more likely to offend than those given community payback orders

Reconviction rates for offenders in Scotland have fallen to their lowest level for 17 years, figures reveal.

In the year 2013-14, just over a quarter (28%) of offenders were reconvicted within a year.

Those released from short jail sentences - three months or less - were more likely to reoffend than those given longer prison terms or sentenced to community payback orders.

The Scottish government said the figures were "encouraging".

The biggest improvement on reoffending was for younger offenders.

Over the past 10 years, the average number of reconvictions per offender dropped by nearly a third for offenders aged 21 to 25.

On average, those who were sentenced to six months or less in prison were reconvicted twice as often as those given community payback orders, the most common type of community sentence.

'Key goal'

While the number of reconvictions for people on Drug Treatment and Testing Orders (DTTOs) rose last year, the rate has dropped by a third over the past 10 years.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: "Today's figures show we are continuing to make good progress on tackling reoffending - a key goal of this government's justice strategy.

"The continued fall in reconvictions is testament to the work done by our police, courts and other partners in communities across Scotland to prevent offending and, where crimes do occur, stop people going on to commit further offences."

Key statistics:

  • In 2013-14, 28% of offenders were reconvicted within a year, down from 32% in 2004-05 - a decline largely driven by decreases in reconvictions for younger offenders
  • Reconviction rates among the over 30s went up
  • There was a decrease of 16% in the average number of times that individual offenders were reconvicted within a year
  • On average, male offenders had more reconvictions than females
  • Those who committed a crime of dishonesty had the highest number of reconvictions per offender
  • Offenders who committed a crime of dishonesty had on average 0.94 reconvictions per offender
  • Those who committed a sexual crime had the lowest number of reconvictions per offender (0.15).

The justice secretary added: "I have set out my vision for a Scotland where people are held to account for their offending and are then given the opportunity to change their lives and become active members of society.

"The evidence backs up our approach that robust community sentences, such as CPOs, are more effective at reducing reoffending than short custodial sentences."

He added: "Today's statistics build on the strong work being done in Scotland's justice system, with recorded crime at a 41-year low, youth offending and knife crime down and an end to automatic early release for all long-term prisoners.

"It is encouraging to see but we will not be complacent in our efforts to reduce crime even further."

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