The total number of people convicted in Scottish courts increased slightly in the year to 2014-15, according to official statistics published today.
Over the year, the second year running that the figure has grown, 106,507 people were convicted, a rise of less than 1% on the previous year, and breaking the downward trend of the previous six years. The main influence was an increase in breach of the peace convictions (up 13% to 15,580), offset by a decline in motor vehicle offence convictions (down 3% to 38,945).
The increase in breach of the peace convictions was driven by offences with a domestic abuse aggravator, in particular the statutory threatening or abusive behaviour, and stalking. This may reflect a strengthened emphasis by the police and prosecution service on tackling domestic abuse.
Convictions for sexual crimes rose for the fourth year in a row, up 8% per cent to 1,145, partly due to increased reporting of sexual offences in the wake of high profile cases.
However fewer people were convicted for non-sexual crimes of violence, with the largest falls being for homicide (down 12% to 80 offenders) and robbery (down 15% to 377). Changes in the latest year for these types of crimes are similar to those seen for police recorded crime.
The number of custodial sentences fell by 1% to 13,977, the lowest level in 10 years. In 2014-15 the average custodial sentence length, excluding life sentences, was around nine and a half months, 3% shorter than in 2013-14 but 25% longer than the 2005-06 average of seven and a half months. Housebreaking convictions are resulting in more custodial sentences in 2014-15 (58% of offenders), with an average of more than a year in 2014-15, compared to seven months in 2005-06.
Whereas in 2005-06, 18 year olds had the highest conviction rate at 102 convictions per 1,000 population, in 2014-15 the highest rate was for those aged between 26 and 30, at 51 convictions per 1,000 population.