Punishment Reports

Judged on Progress: the Need for Urgent Delivery on Scottish Justice Sector Reforms

On 10/01/22 the Scottish Parliament’s Criminal Justice Committee published its report, ‘Judged on Progress: the Need for Urgent Delivery on Scottish Justice Sector Reforms’. It’s a weighty piece with recommendations across the following areas: the impact of Covid 19 on the justice sector; prisons and prison policy; misuse of drugs and the criminal justice system; violence against women and girls; victims’ rights and victim support; reducing youth offending, offering community justice solutions and alternatives to custody; and legal aid.          Importantly, it includes an Action Plan for the Scottish Justice Sector in this session of Parliament, which include monitoring mechanisms e.g. did the Scottish Government agree to the recommendation to deliver the manifesto commitment not to hold under 18s in HMP Polmont – yes/no/in part – with progress against delivery.

Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) Criminal Case Throughput Data

On 17 November 2020, the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) published data on criminal case throughput.

Key points:

           - following an initial reduction after lockdown, the overall level of new cases registered has risen to 78% of the average monthly pre-COVID level

           - petitions (a useful indicator of future solemn business), are 15% higher than the average monthly pre-COVID level

           - with High Court remote jury centres now in place, evidence led trials are now 67% of the average monthly pre-COVID level

           - remote Jury Centres are being extended across Scotland to re-start sheriff court jury trials

           - evidence led summary trials in the Sheriff Courts are now 83% of the average monthly pre-COVID levels

           - the total volume of cases (not necessarily those that go on to a trial) concluded in October was 82% of the average monthly pre-COVID level.  

Council of Europe's European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Report

On 8 October 2020, the Council of Europe Anti-Torture Committee published its report on the United Kingdom focusing on Scottish prisons. This was a follow up to their 2018 visit. Many of their recommendations had not been implemented, particularly around high-secure mental health accommodation provision for women. This chimes with calls for governance of the National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) to be revised and to find a way to make their recommendations legally enforceable.

Reconviction Rates in Scotland: 2017-18 Offender Cohort

On 6 October 2020, reoffending statistics for 2017-18 were published. They contained detailed analyses of reconviction rates and the average number of reconvictions per offender by: offender characteristics, sentence type, crime type, and local authority.

The latest cohort in the reconvictions statistics is the 2017-18 cohort, with reconvictions counted up to the 31 March 2019 at the latest for this cohort. This was before the extended presumption against short sentences came into force on 4 July 2019.

Key points:

-       the reconviction rate for offenders has fallen to its lowest level since comparable records began

-       the percentage of offenders who were reconvicted in a year was 26.3% – a one percentage point decrease from 27.3% in 2016-17

-       the average number of reconvictions fell from 0.48 to 0.46, a reduction of 4%

-       offenders given a short custodial sentence of one year or less were reconvicted nearly twice as often as those given a Community Payback Order (CPO).

Recorded Crime in Scotland: 2018-2019

On 24 September 2019, the Scottish Government published its Recorded Crime in Scotland figures for 2018-19. These showed a rise of 1% in total crime recorded by the police in Scotland since 2017-18, with non-sexual crimes of violence increasing by 10% and sexual crimes increasing by 8%.  It was noted that these figures should be observed against a backdrop of a 27% decrease in overall crime recorded since 2009-10 and that the recording of crime remained at one of the lowest levels seen since 1974.

Recorded Crime in Scotland Figures (2018-19)









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