4. Number and type of previous convictions: 2005-06 to 2014-15
This section presents information on previous convictions for those offenders who were convicted on at least one occasion in 2014-15 ( Table 15 and Table 16). These two tables are compiled on a different basis to the remainder of this publication; looking at the number of individuals convicted at least once in 2014-15 and then examining their conviction history over the previous ten years. In contrast, all other tables in this publication focus on those convicted in 2013-14 and then count how many were reconvicted in the 2014-15 follow up period.
Of the 44,744 individuals convicted at least once in 2014-15 for a crime or relevant offence, 64 per cent had at least one prior conviction in the previous ten years, whilst 13 per cent had over 10 previous convictions ( Table 16).
As is consistent with the findings of the 2012-13 cohort provided in the Reconviction Rates in Scotland: 2012-13 Offender Cohort publication sentencing is influenced by offending history as well as the circumstances of a particular case. Table 15 and Chart 10 shows that:
- The number of custodial sentences given increases with the number of previous convictions of an individual offender over the past ten years. Only 5 per cent of first time offenders were given custodial sentences while this value increases to 21 per cent of those with between 3 and 10 previous convictions and 43 per cent of those with more than 10 previous convictions in the past ten years.
- A high proportion of first time offenders are given a caution/admonition (32 per cent) but for offenders with more previous convictions this value decreases from 21 per cent for those with one or two convictions to 19 per cent for those with 3 to 10 and more than 10 previous convictions.
- The proportion of offenders given community sentences is the same for first time offenders and offenders with more than 10 previous convictions (22 per cent each). Offenders with one or two and between 3 and 10 previous convictions are more likely to be given community sentences at 29 and 31 per cent respectively.
- First time offenders and those with one or two previous convictions are most likely to be given fines (41 and 42 per cent respectively). Offenders with more than 10 previous convictions are least likely to be given fines (16 per cent).
The number of prior convictions for serious offences is strongly linked to the likelihood of getting a custodial sentence: about 10 per cent of those with no prior solemn convictions (i.e. in the high or sheriff solemn court) get a custodial sentence, rising to 36 per cent and 60 per cent for those with 1 or 2 and 3 to 10 solemn convictions respectively.
Over the past ten years the proportion of prolific offenders, those with more than ten previous convictions, has remained relatively constant ( Table 16). Thirteen per cent of offenders in 2004-05 had over 10 previous convictions in the previous ten years, and this has fluctuated between 12 and 14 per cent for subsequent years. Thirteen per cent of offenders in 2014-15 had over 10 previous convictions in the previous ten years.
Chart 10: Number of individuals convicted in 2014-15, by last disposal in 2014-15 and the number of previous convictions since 2005-06
Email: Mark Bell
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House