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2 May 2017, 12:54
More than a quarter of criminals convicted across Scotland committed a further crime within a year, according to new figures.
Scottish Government statistics show 28.2% of the 43,634 people released from prison or given a non-custodial sentence such as a community payback order or fine in 2014/15 had a further conviction within a year.
The figure has dipped 0.3% from 2013/14, continuing an 18-year downward trend.
Offenders released from jail in 2014/15 had a higher reconviction rate at 43.9% than for any other type of sentence except drug treatment and testing orders.
The report found more than half of those sentenced to jail terms of six months or fewer were reconvicted within a year, and 39% were back in prison.
Statisticians highlighted that offenders who receive short sentences typically commit ''low level'' crimes such as shoplifting, but often in higher volumes and are more likely to be reconvicted.
Sex offenders had the lowest reconviction rate at 12.1%, while people committing crimes of dishonesty such as theft or shoplifting had the highest out of the crime classifications at 42.5%.
More than one in five, 23%, of drug offenders and 22% of violent criminals committed a further crime within a year.
The average number of reconvictions per offender had fallen by nearly 4% to 0.5 between 2013/14 and 2014/15.
Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said the figures showed that community sentences, including community payback orders (CPOs) brought in to replace community service, were more effective at cutting reoffending than short jail terms.
The reconviction rate for those given CPOs is four percentage points lower than in 2011-12, the first full year after they were introduced, and also lower than for the community orders they replaced - but up 3.6 percentage points on the previous year.
Mr Matheson said: ''These figures show we are continuing to make good progress on tackling reoffending - a key goal of this Government's justice strategy.
''The continued fall in reconvictions is down to hard work from partners across Scottish justice, working together to prevent offending and keep our communities safe.
''This is further evidence to back up our position that robust community sentences, particularly CPOs, are more effective at reducing reoffending than short custodial sentences.''
He said the Government's new model for community justice encourages an approach of holding people to account for offending while giving them an opportunity to address the underlying causes.