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Reconviction Statistics: 2020-21 offender cohort

​An Accredited Official Statistics Publication for Scotland.

The latest reconviction statistics for the 2020-21 offender cohort have been published today by Scotland’s Chief Statistician. This is the second year that reconviction data affected by the COVID-19 pandemic has been published. The impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on these statistics means we would advise heavy caution in using the data presented in this publication. As a result, the data for the 2020-21 cohort is not indicative of longer-term trends. Reconviction rates have increased from historically low rates in 2019-20 across most groups.

The reconviction rate, which is the percentage of offenders who are reconvicted in a year, was 26.9% in 2020-21. This is a 2.6 percentage point increase from 24.3% in 2019-20. The average number of reconvictions per offender, a measure of how often offenders are reconvicted, increased by 8% in the same period from 0.41 to 0.44.

From the people who have offended in 2021-22, 34% did so for the first time in at least 10 years, up from 31% from the previous year.

As in previous years, males are reconvicted more often, on average, than females. In 2020-21, the average number of reconvictions per offender for males was 0.45, which was 12% higher than the value of 0.39 for females.

As in previous years, offenders who committed a crime of dishonesty had the highest reconviction rate (40.7% in 2020-21), compared to offenders that committed another type of crime. Offenders who committed a sexual crime had the lowest (8.8% in 2020-21). The type of crime committed is one of a range of factors associated with the likelihood of being reconvicted, including the sentence received, offending history, and characteristics of individual offenders.

In 2020-21, 5.4% of offenders with an index domestic abuse crime or offence were reconvicted for a further domestic abuse crime or offence, and 17.0% were reconvicted for any type of crime or offence.

Offenders released from a custodial sentence had an average number of reconvictions per offender of 0.66 in 2020-21, which was 5% lower than 0.70 in 2019-20. Of those convicted in 2021-22 with a custodial sentence, 70.0% had at least one previous custodial sentence in the past 10 years, with 35.7% having between 3 to 10 and 12.9% having over 10.

Community Payback Orders (CPOs) are the most commonly used community sentence. The reconviction rate was 27.9% in 2020-21, an increase from 25.4% in 2019-20. Of those convicted in 2021-22 with a community sentence, 49.5% had at least one previous community sentence in the past 10 years, with 18.6% having between 3 to 10 and 0.8% having over 10. The cohort size for CPOs had a large decrease from the previous year, down by nearly half.

Sixteen per cent of individuals given a non-court disposal by the police in 2020-21 (such as a warning or fine) received another non-court disposal within a year

Official statistics are produced by professionally independent statistical staff – more information on the standards of official statistics in Scotland can be accessed here

Reconviction Rates in Scotland

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