Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf has welcomed official statistics showing the number of offenders reconvicted of further offences has fallen to a 19-year low.
Almost three-quarters of people in Scotland who were released from prison or given a non-custodial sentence in 2015-16 were not reconvicted within 12 months, compared to around two-thirds of those a decade ago.
The National Statistics also show that those released from a short prison sentence are reconvicted almost twice as often in 12 months than those given community payback orders (CPOs). The reconviction rate for those subject to a CPO also fell in 2015-16.
Mr Yousaf said:
“Scotland has continued to reduce the number of people who reoffend, implementing a clear focus on rehabilitation, working alongside partners in local government, the third sector and Scottish Prison Service, to help many people with convictions turn their lives around.
“Short custodial sentences often serve little purpose, and these independent figures support our work to encourage courts to consider community sentences as a robust alternative to custody – challenging and supporting men and women to tackle underlying issues behind offending behaviour.
“There will always be cases where the court rightly decides prison is the most appropriate sentence, and we are supporting the Scottish Prison Service to provide services that help transform the lives of people in custody. The time they spend in prison is an opportunity for rehabilitation and change, and to develop links with services and support to prevent re-offending on release. That is why SPS are investing in Throughcare Support Officers who provide one-to-one support and guidance, before, during and after their release.
“I have made clear my determination to ensure victims are at the heart of Scotland’s justice system, and one important part of that is continuing to reduce the number of victims of crime. By ensuring rehabilitation and reintegration remains a key focus of our justice reforms we can continue to reduce reoffending – helping keeping crime down and communities safe.”