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Reducing reoffending


Reoffending costs around £3 billion a year, creates victims, damages communities and wastes potential. Reoffending has fallen over the last 13 years but we know we can do more to reduce this even further.

To reduce reoffending Scotland’s justice system must punish people appropriately when they break the law and also provide support for those trying to move away from crime.


We will achieve this by:

  • redesigning the community justice system to ensure appropriate structures are in place to ensure the effective delivery of services to offenders
  • making sure offenders have access to the services needed to reduce their reoffending
  • setting up a £10 million Reducing Reoffending Change Fund over 2012 to 2015 to provide mentoring schemes for offenders to deal with their problems, including practical support to get their lives back on track
  • considering whether the laws around disclosure of a person’s previous criminal activity should be reformed to help improve the rehabilitation prospects of those convicted of a criminal offence
  • examining how we can improve links between employment, housing, education and health services to help people who have repeatedly offended access the services they need to reduce their reoffending
  • focusing on tough and effective community sentences, particularly the Community Payback Order
  • leading a major shake-up of the way in which women offenders are dealt with, including plans for a purpose built national prison for women and better support
  • investing in prisons through the Scottish Prison Service to ensure they are equipped both to detain inmates securely and to support their rehabilitation
  • using integrated offender management to better manage sex offenders by getting partner agencies to work together
  • establishing an Electronic Monitoring in Scotland Expert Working Group to consider the effectiveness and possible uses of different forms of Electronic Monitoring, including GPS.


The Strategy for Justice in Scotland sets out our approach to make the Scottish justice system fit for the 21st century.

The Reducing Reoffending Programme (RRP) ran from 2009 to 2012 and introduced the Community Payback Order, the piloting of the ‘whole system approach’ for young people who offend, the creation of the first nationwide directory of services aimed at reducing reoffending and the development of a more consistent approach to risk assessment across the sector.

The second phase of the programme (RRP II) began in 2012. It is focused on making sure that the right services and support are provided so that prolific offenders can address their reoffending and its causes. There are six projects within the programme on areas such as improving services and throughcare, taking forward work on women who offend and redesigning community justice structures and a reform of funding arrangements.

Our approach is informed by international research on what works to reduce reoffending, widespread consultation with those working with offenders, and a detailed analysis of the social and economic costs of reoffending.

Who we’ve consulted

We consulted a wide range of stakeholders on proposals for redesigning the community justice system, including community justice authorities, local authorities, police, voluntary organisations, health professionals, judiciary, former offenders and the general public.

Bills and legislation

The Management of Offenders (Scotland) Act 2005 created eight Community Justice Authorities.

The Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 introduced Community Payback Orders (CPOs) and a presumption against short-term prison sentences of less than three months. CPOs came into force on February 1, 2011.

How Scotland is performing

Scotland Performs measures and reports on the progress of government in Scotland. The National Outcomes describe what we want to achieve over the next 10 years.

National Outcome: We live our lives safe from crime, disorder and danger

Justice Outcomes