A pilot scheme to ensure offenders behave when their sentences are deferred has been announced by Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson.
Petty criminals may benefit from behavioural sessions, says Ms Jamieson
The scheme will be run in four areas across Scotland.
Petty offenders will be required to demonstrate improved behaviour between court appearances.
They may have to take part in sessions with social work staff and other professionals and if they do not they could be given a punitive penalty.
Ms Jamieson said: "There are a large number of petty offenders who appear
before our lower courts who might benefit from some form of social work
intervention or supervision.
"Historically, where sentence had been deferred, there has been little
opportunity for social workers to become involved in helping the offender
overcome the causes of their criminal behaviour.
"Introducing structured deferred sentences as an additional option for courts will provide the opportunity for offenders to follow a programme which could include regular meetings with social work staff, and addressing those issues which might have contributed to their criminal behaviour."
She said that where courts take such an option, the onus is on petty offenders to prove that they want to move on.
Ms Jamieson believes that if the offender takes part successfully in that programme then they are likely to be admonished and therefore avoid a criminal record.
The minister added: "This is one further step in a major national initiative to increase the range and number of community sentences.
Cathy Jamieson: "Committed to a safer Scotland"
"Earlier this year we piloted the mandatory use of supervised attendance
orders for fine defaulters and last week the first minister confirmed the
introduction of pilot community reparation orders.
"We are committed to giving the police and the courts what they need to help
deliver a safer, stronger Scotland."
An announcement on the four areas in which the pilot for structured deferred
sentences will take place is to be made shortly.
The pilots will begin before the end of the year and run for up to two years.
A decision on whether to roll-out the scheme will be made on the basis of ongoing evaluation of the pilots.