6 Feb 2018
A third of criminals handed community payback orders fail to complete the punishment, new figures have revealed.
The drop in successful completions of CPOs comes as the SNP government plans to abolish sentences of less than a year, meaning even more alternative punishments such as these will be used.
The Criminal Justice Social Work Statistics showed just 67.5 per cent of the 19,136 orders were seen through to their conclusion by offenders.
That means more than 6000 criminals failed to complete the order in 2016/17, a trend that has increased over recent years.
Despite the failure to enforce the role of CPOs, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced in her Programme for Government last year that she wants to scrap prison sentences of less than 12 months.
That would mean thousands of criminals, including many convicted of domestic abuse, would receive CPOs and fines instead of a jail term.
Today’s statistics also revealed people handed a Drug Treatment Testing Order last year were more likely to fail it than complete it.
Of the 478 handed out last year, just 44 per cent complied with the court order.
And “diversions from prosecution” have also increased, from 1326 in 2012/13 to 1980 last year.
Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary Liam Kerr said:
“There are many problems with the SNP’s plan to scrap jail sentences of less than a year, not least the insult that is to victims of crime.
“But it will also lead to more alternatives being handed out, particularly community payback orders.
“That might be ok if these measures actually worked, but these figures show a third of them aren’t even completed.
“The SNP’s vision for justice seems to be serious criminals showing up to court knowing they won’t be jailed, and even when they’re fined or given a CPO, they won’t have to bother complying.
“The situation is a mess, and this SNP government has to reconsider the ill-thought through plan on sentencing, and get tough on those who don’t take other punishments seriously.”