It's not exactly encouraging news that significant rises in Probation Order and Drug Treatment & Testing Order breaches have been recorded:
- Of the 6,437 Community Service Orders this year (4% increase on 2007/08) 2,113 breach applications were made to the court. That is a decrease of 2% compared with 2007/08 but an increase of 41% in the last 5 years.
- Around 31% of orders terminated resulted in a breach.
- 6,744 Community Service Orders were terminated in 2008/09 – 65% were successfully completed.
- Of the 9,072 Probation Orders (including probation orders with a requirement of unpaid work) this year (an increase of 4% compared to last year) 5,698 breach applications were made to the court, that is an increase of 23% since last year.
- About 63% of these orders resulted in a breach.
- 7,364 Probation Orders were terminated in 2008/09 – 46% were successful completed this is a decrease from last year (2006/7 58% were successful completed).
- Of the 4,306 Supervised Attendance Orders imposed, 2,208 breach applications were made to the courts.
- Breach Applications for Supervised Attendance Orders have increased by 68% from 2008/09.
- 3,936 Supervised Attendance Orders were terminated in 2008/09 – 61% were successfully completed.
- A total of 752 Drug Treatment and Testing Orders were made in 2008/09, an increase of 25% since 2007/08
- Of the 752 Drug Treatment and Testing Orders, 218 had a breach application, that is 29%.
- 542 DTTOs were terminated in 2008/09 only 40% were due to successful completion.
This really does not bode well for the SNP's grand plan of 'tough community sentences'. The First Minister certainly scored some points when he highlighted the fact that criminals were out shovelling snow when they would otherwise be in a nice warm cell with three meals a day. Perhaps he had a point. But the figures quoted above would make anyone uneasy as to just how effective these community sentences will be.
It's not just about deterring, punishing and rehabilitating criminals in my view, it's about giving the community, especially the victims of crime, confidence that the justice system works appropriately.
Right now, I don't think that's the case, and I suspect it will get worse.