Crime in Scotland has now fallen by 38% under the SNP to a 43-year-low, while the average length of prison sentences is now 26% higher than a decade ago.
The proportion of people sentenced to a community sentence that reduces the likelihood of re-offending and benefit communities with unpaid work rose from 13% of those convicted to 20%.
The Criminal Proceedings in Scotland bulletin for 2016-17 shows criminal court proceedings at their lowest level since records began in 1970, with an 8% reduction over last year in both the number of people proceeded against in court (107,338) and those subsequently convicted (92,334).
Justice Secretary Michael Matheson MSP said:
“Scotland’s courts continue to sentence those who pose significant risks to public safety to imprisonment, with 37% of those convicted of sexual offences last year being jailed compared to 24% in 2007-08.
“The Scottish Prison Service supports the rehabilitation of those serving long-term sentences, helping to reduce reoffending and so contributing to keeping crime down and communities’ safe. We can help hard-working prison staff to do that most effectively by enabling more robust community sentences for those who might otherwise be given short and ineffective periods in custody.”
Commenting on the increased conviction rate for sex crimes, Kenneth Gibson MSP added:
“Since last April judges have been required to direct juries in certain sexual offence cases on how to consider evidence, specifically explaining why a victim may not physically resist their attacker, nor report an offence immediately. On-going Jury research is also examining how juries reach decisions and use the ‘not proven’ verdict.
“As well as ensuring the justice system is resourced to pursue perpetrators and better support victims, preventative work includes education on the pervasive nature of gender-based violence, an issue on which people across society, in families, schools and the wider community, must continue to speak out against.
“Regarding longer prison sentences, ensuring the most violent offenders are in prison longer is fundamental to keeping Scotland safe. I was therefore delighted when in June 2015 the SNP Government abolished automatic early release of prisoners; a policy introduced by the Tories and continued by Labour and the Lib Dems.”
An additional £20 million (2015-18) of SNP Government funding to tackle all forms of violence against women and girls included £1.85 million to Rape Crisis Scotland to enhance the support available to survivors of sexual violence.