Scottish reconviction rates reach lowest levels since 1999
The reconviction rate of offenders has fallen for a sixth consecutive year, according to the latest Scottish Government figures.
The reconviction rate amongst all offenders in Scotland in 2016 stood at 28.2%, marking a slight reduction from the previous year’s 28.5%. It also marked the lowest reconviction rate since the formation of the Scottish parliament in 1999.
The figures also reveal a 4% reduction in the average number of reconvictions per offender – 0.50 compared to 0.52 in 2015.
Amongst offenders, those aged 21 and under are most likely to reoffend (35.3%), whereas those aged 40 and over proved the least likely (20.8%).
There is a correlation between shorter custodial sentences and higher rates of reoffending, with those serving sentences of 3 months or less reoffending at a rate of 60%, compared to a reconviction rate of 12.3% amongst those serving more than 4 years in jail.
The figures indicate a wide disparity in reconviction rates based on geographical location. Offenders based in Inverclyde, for example, had the highest rate of reoffending – 32%, a figure almost double that of Orkney Islands’ 16.1% reoffending rate.
To facilitate this goal, the Scottish Government launched their “National Strategy for Community Justice” in November 2016. Amongst the recommendations to lower rates of reconvictions were better access to housing for those leaving prison, a move away from custodial sentences for non-serious offences, and one-on-one mentoring support for reoffenders.
Within the past week, the Scottish Government pledged £3.4million of funding for mentoring services.
Responding to the figures, Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesman Liam McArthur MSP called for an innovative approach to sentencing.
He said: “The drop in reconvictions is, of course, a good thing but it only tells half the story. The fact remains that more than half of those given short-term prison sentences are reconvicted within a year.
“This is yet more evidence that disruptive, short-term prison sentences are less effective at rehabilitating people than robust, community-based sentences.
“Scottish Liberal Democrats have consistently called for the presumption against short-term sentences to be raised to 12 months from the current three.
“This is backed by independent experts and reinforced by today’s statistics. If the Justice Secretary is serious about reducing reoffending he should quit stalling and finally adopt this new policy.”