Criminal Proceedings in Scotland, 2017-18, contains several pieces of evidence suggesting progress in Scotland which Humza Yousaf’s equivalents in the non-Scottish parts of the UK would sell their grannies for, yet ignoring the above dramatic good news and many other trends reported below, Reporting Scotland found a way to extract and construct a bad news story out of this extensive report:
Yesterday, Jackie Bird told us:
‘Almost 80% of people jailed in Scotland received sentences of less than a year according to new figures. That’s despite government plans to ask courts not to impose such short prison terms and instead use community sentences such as unpaid work.’
You see how they did this. They decided that all sentences up to 12 months, rather than those up to 3 months were ‘short sentences’, found less progress there and snuffled out this wee truffle they could selectively foreground:
Of course, we cannot see what proportion of those sentences were in the 6 to 12-month range. Do we actually want those reduced? Are they short sentences at all? Not to my mind, they’re not.
The report is 106 pages long and stuffed with other headline-worthy news, all ignored. Here’s my extract:
Handling offensive weapons:
Oh how, the ministers in London, England and Wales would drool over the above. Of course, RS would feel able to just report the last year and ignore the unwanted trend. You’ll remember many other times when they have preferred the longer view just to get a bigger headline percentage.
Overall convictions trend, still ongoing:
Convictions for crime continued to fall steady in the years since the SNP came to power. Multiple factors will be contributory, but the government of the day and its policies must take some of the credit just as, surely, they’d take any blame.
Average length of sentences:
The average length of sentences goes up and this is good news because it means fewer and fewer are going to prison for minor offences especially where violence is not involved. The average is now based on a smaller number serving longer terms thus increasing it. This trend shows the Scottish system encouraged by the Scottish Government has learned the key lesson that very short sentences are both ineffective and often make things worse by exposing minor offenders to the malign influence of those who have committed more serious crimes.
Fewer younger people convicted:
Though convictions for all groups have declined over the last ten years, the decrease has been most dramatic for the youngest group (under 21) and, less so, for the second youngest group (21-30). This is, of course, particularly good news as these are the groups most likely to be involved in crime. Similarly, the rate for males has declined dramatically from 46 per 1 000 population in 2008 to 28 in 2017-18. The rate for females has declined from 8 per 1 000 population in 2008 to 6 in 2017.
Spread the real news!