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Publication - Statistics publication

Reconviction rates in Scotland: 2013-2014 offender cohort

Published: 19 May 2016
Justice Directorate
Part of:
Law and order

Scottish Government publication providing analysis of trends in reconviction figures up to the latest cohort of 2013 to 2014.

72 page PDF

2.1 MB

72 page PDF

2.1 MB

Reconviction rates in Scotland: 2013-2014 offender cohort
Annex B: Sources of information, data quality and confidentiality, and revisions

72 page PDF

2.1 MB

Annex B: Sources of information, data quality and confidentiality, and revisions

Sources of information

B1 Information presented in this bulletin is based on data held in the SOI, which is derived from the data used in the Criminal Proceedings in Scotland statistical bulletin. The Criminal Proceedings data is in turn derived from information held on the Criminal History System ( CHS) maintained by Police Scotland. It currently contains a record of criminal proceedings against individuals (excluding companies) in Scottish courts as well as information on non-court disposals. The data in the SOI currently covers all convictions where a sentence was imposed since the beginning of 1989, and the main offence involved was either a crime in Groups 1-5 of the Scottish Government's classification of crimes; or some offences in Group 6. The distinction between crimes and offences is made only for statistical reporting purposes. Although the violations allocated under "crimes" tend to be more serious there are some "offences" that have more severe punishments associated with them e.g. drink driving is classified under "offences" in the "motor vehicle offences" section rather than under "crimes". Groups 1-5 of the Scottish Government's classification covers non-sexual crimes of violence, sexual crimes, crimes of dishonesty, fire-raising, vandalism etc. and other crimes. The offences in Group 6 which are included in the SOI are: common assault, breach of the peace, threatening or abusive behaviour, offence of stalking, offensive behaviour at football and threatening communications (under the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communication Scotland Act 2012), racially aggravated harassment or conduct, miscellaneous firearms offences, and social security offences. See Annex Table A2 for a more detailed list of the types of crimes in the SOI.

B2 Each record on the SOI database includes information on the sex and date of birth of the offender, the dates of conviction and sentence, the main offence involved and details of the sentence imposed. Information is also available on any offences which were additional to the main offence involved. Each offender has a unique reference number, which allows individual convictions for that offender to be linked together. The SOI is a statistical database and does not include personal information.

B3 While virtually all convictions since 1989 for the crimes listed in Annex Table A2 are covered by the SOI, some other convictions are not. These include convictions for minor statutory and common law offences (such as drunkenness, and almost all motor vehicle offences), convictions in courts outside of Scotland, convictions prior to 1989, and any relevant convictions not recorded on the CHS by the end of July 2014.

B4 All but the most serious offences alleged to have been committed by children under the age of 16 are generally dealt with by the children's hearings system. The SOI does not currently hold information on offenders' juvenile offending history.

Data quality

B5 The figures in the bulletin have been derived from administrative IT systems which, as with any large scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing. During the production of this bulletin we have put in place processes to ensure that the data are fit for purpose for this publication, which are listed below.

B6 There are standards for the definitions of the data items and their corresponding values that are inputted on the CHS. These standards are agreed by the Integration of Scottish Criminal Justice Information Systems/ Co-ordinating IT and Management Information ( ISCJIS/ CIMI) programme and should ensure there is consistency across the justice organisations in the information they collect. Given a number of different organisations input information to the CHS, this is crucial. Further information on the data standards can be found here:

B7 The analyses in this bulletin are based on the data published in the Criminal Proceedings in Scotland statistical bulletin, and the quality assurance process is described in the section on Data quality: Data validation during production of the statistical bulletin in Annex B of the 2014-15 Criminal Proceedings bulletin. In summary, the validation processes include automated and manual checks on the data. Any unusual or missing values are referred back to either Police Scotland, the Scottish Court Service ( SCS), or the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service ( COPFS). The figures are also checked against case processing information published by COPFS and management information provided by SCS to ensure that the court volumes are consistent. Police Scotland, SCS, COPFS and policy experts within the Scottish Government are also consulted to give insight on an operational level and provide insight into why any significant changes may have occurred. The figures are also checked by Scottish Government statisticians, who have not been involved in the production process, and they may highlight any issues that may have gone unnoticed.

B8 During the production of this bulletin, the data undergoes processing to calculate the frequency and prevalence of reconvictions. The numbers are manually checked to determine whether there are any unusual values, and if so, then the calculations are rechecked. Like the Criminal Proceedings in Scotland publication, the new figures in this bulletin have undergone a further round of checks by Scottish Government statisticians, and policy experts within the Scottish Government are again consulted to provide insight and context to any significant changes in the figures.

Data confidentiality

B9 Information on the outcomes of court proceedings is publicly available. However, while our aim is for the statistics in this bulletin to be sufficiently detailed to allow a high level of practical utility, care has been taken to ensure that it is not possible to identify an individual and glean any private information relating to them.

B10 Furthermore, to maintain the security and confidentiality of the data received from the data suppliers, only a small number of Scottish Government employees have access to the data. The only personal details received by the Scottish Government in the data extract are those which are essential for the analyses in this bulletin and do not include the names of offenders.


B11 The CHS is not designed for statistical purposes. It is dependent on receiving timely information from the SCS, COPFS, and the police. It should also be noted that some types of outcome, such as acquittals, are removed from the system after a prescribed length of time. A pending case on the CHS is updated in a timely manner, but there are occasions when a slight delay may happen. Recording delays of this sort generally affect high court disposals relatively more than those for other types of court. The figures provided in this bulletin reflect the details of court proceedings recorded on the CHS and supplied to the Scottish Government by the end of July 2015 to allow later convictions for 2013-15 to be captured on the CHS.

B12 The CHS is regularly updated, so subsequent analyses will result in revised figures (shown in Annex Table B1) as late records are added. The first revision of the reconviction rate in the following year's bulletin is typically 0.4 percentage points higher than the figures published initially, and the average number of reconvictions per offender is typically 0.01 to 0.02 higher.

B13 There was a larger increase from the initial published figures at the first revision of the figures for the 2010-11 cohort, than the average increase has been at the first revision of other cohorts. This is because the calculations of index offences and reconvictions, from the 2011-12 cohort bulletin onwards, included new offences which came into effect from 2010, which weren't included in the 2010-11 cohort bulletin. The new offences that were included from the 2011-12 cohort bulletin onwards are threatening or abusive behaviour and offence of stalking, which are part of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010; and offensive behaviour at football and threatening communications (under the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communication Scotland Act 2012). These offences are grouped under "breach of the peace" in Table 6 and Table 7, in line with the Criminal Proceedings in Scotland publication.

Table B1 Revisions to reconviction rates

Cohort Initial published figures 1st revision of published figures 2nd revision of published figures 3rd revision of published figures
Reconv. rate Av. no. of reconvs. per offender Reconv. rate Av. no. of reconvs. per offender Reconv. rate Av. no. of reconvs. per offender Reconv. rate Av. no. of reconvs. per offender
2006-07 32.2 0.59*† 32.4 0.60*† 32.4 0.60† 32.4 0.60†
2007-08 30.9 0.56*† 31.2 0.57† 31.3 0.57† 31.2 0.57†
2008-09 31.0 0.58† 31.5 0.60† 31.5 0.60† 31.5 0.60
2009-10 30.1 0.54† 30.5 0.56† 30.6 0.56 30.6 0.56
2010-11 28.4 X 0.50† X 30.1 X 0.55 X 30.1 0.55 30.1 0.55
2011-12 29.2 0.53 29.6 0.54 29.6 0.55 - -
2012-13 28.6 0.51 28.9 0.53 - - - -
2013-14 28.3 0.51 - - - - - -

* These figures were not published initially, but it is possible to determine their magnitude retrospectively.

† These figures have been previously reported as the reconviction frequency rate, which was the number of reconvictions per 100 offenders. Therefore these figures are the original figure divided by 100 to get the average number of reconvictions per offender.

X From the 2011-12 bulletin, some new offences that came into effect from 2010 were included in calculations for the reconviction rate and the average number of reconvictions. These offences weren't included in calculations in the 2009-10 or 2010-11 cohort bulletins. The increase in the numbers after revision led to a slightly higher increase at the 1st revision for the 2010-11 cohort than it had been in previous and subsequent years. See note in Annex B13.


Email: Mark Bell

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
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