The number of “diversions from prosecution” has risen by 7 per cent to over 1,800 over the last year according to the latest figures released today. Offenders who are diverted from prosecution are referred to social work services who investigate and, where appropriate, provide services as an alternative to custody.
The figures, released in the Criminal Justice Social Work Statistics, 2018- 19 also show that nearly 1 in 3 criminals continue to ignore community payback orders, with only 68 percent of offenders completing their community sentences.
In addition, over a quarter (27 percent) of the orders did not include ‘unpaid work or other activity’ meaning a third of the punishments provided no rehabilitation.
Lastly, while the Scottish Government’s own guidance says work should start within seven days, almost a third of criminals failed to comply with this also with only 69 percent actually starting work within the required timescale.
The Scottish Conservatives have criticised these latest increases saying that the SNP’s soft touch justice agenda is not tackling Scotland’s rising crime rate.
Liam Kerr, Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary said;
“The SNP’s soft touch justice clearly isn’t an effective answer to Scotland’s rising crime rate.
“This significant increase in diversions from prosecution denies more victims the justice they deserve while offenders avoid any meaningful punishment.
“While early and positive intervention by social work could be helpful, there is a danger that young offenders are simply being recycled back onto our streets.
“In addition, many of the payback orders that are being completed aren’t starting on time, and many aren’t rehabilitating the criminals who do finish them.
“Crime has risen for two years in a row, and violent crime rose by 10 percent last year alone.
“Victims are fed up of being ignored, police officers are working tirelessly in dilapidated buildings and prison officers are off on stress-related sickness leave.
“The Justice Secretary’s approach isn’t working.”
Notes to editors:
The full stats can be found at - Scottish Government, Criminal Justice Social Work Statistics: 2018-19, 3 February 2020, link.