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Safer Communities - Sentences Imposed


High Level Summary of Statistics Trend Last update: Tuesday, 27th February 2018

Sentences Imposed

A total of 82,716 people were convicted in 2017-18, down 10% on 2016-17 (92,347).  This continues the general downward trend of the last ten years and contrasts the short term rise in court activity between 2012-13 and 2014-15.  Convictions in 2017-18 were around 34 per cent lower than in 2008-09 (125,893 convictions).

This reduction since 2008-09 is consistent with the principal aim of Summary Justice Reform in that fewer cases go to court needlessly and more are dealt with by non-court actions, where it is more appropriate to do so, although this trend also reflects the general reduction in crime levels.

Number of people with a charge proved in Scottish Courts by main penalty, 2008-09 to 2017-18


Financial penalties account for the majority of court sentences and totalled 39,260 in 2017-18 (47%), although this proportion has declined from a high of 60% in 2009-10. The number of financial penalties given in court has decreased over the last ten years, with current levels more than 47% lower than at the start of the last decade (73,991 in 2008-09).

The number of convictions resulting in a custodial sentence fell by six per cent in the year to 2017-18 (from 12,705 to 11,973). Custodial sentences represented 14% of all convictions in 2017-18.  This proportion has remained relatively stable over the last ten years, fluctuating between 13 and 15%.

Sentences Imposed by Court Type

Sixty-one per cent of convictions in 2017-18 were in sheriff summary courts, one percentage point less than when levels were at 62% in 2008-09, although all of the intervening years were lower, likely due to summary justice reform shifting some business from sheriff courts to Justice of the Peace (JP) courts.

However, JP courts now account for 33% of convictions in 2017-18 compared to 34% in 2008-09, its lowest level in the last decade, showing a reduction in cases coming to summary court.

Proportion of convictions by court type, 2008-09 to 2017-18


Source: Scottish Government Criminal Proceedings database


Further Information

Criminal Proceedings in Scotland 2017-18