Unpaid work remains high in Scotland

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Over 1.8 million hours of unpaid work was undertaken by offenders in Scotland last year as punishment for their offences.

Communities the length and breadth of Scotland are directly benefiting from the work which includes the construction of cycle paths; the removal of graffiti; refurbishing community centres, public parks and sports facilities.

Statistics published today show:

Of the 20,400 social work orders commenced in 2013-14, 78 per cent contained an element of unpaid work.

Community payback orders accounted for 18,600 of the social work orders, with 80 per cent including an unpaid work requirement. These requirements totalled 1.8 million unpaid hours.

Seventy-five per cent of offenders with an unpaid work requirement started work within seven days of leaving court.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: “This Government is working hard to ensure that Scotland is a safe place to live, work and visit. Recorded crime is at its lowest level for 40 years, supported by the work of more than 1,000 extra police officers in our communities.

“The figures represent the third full year of use for the community payback order – an order imposed by the courts to make offenders work hard in our communities, on both short and long term projects, as payback for their crimes - and it’s clear that the orders are doing exactly that.

“The punishment should always fit the crime, and prison is the right place for those who commit serious crimes or pose a danger to communities. However, we know that short prison sentences do not work to rehabilitate offenders or to reduce the risk of reoffending. Community sentences are more demanding, start more quickly and allow offenders to payback to the community while also addressing the underlying causes of their offending behaviour. This is a smarter, more sophisticated option and we know it works.”

Social work orders include community payback, community service, probation, supervised attendance and drug treatment and testing orders.