Page last updated at 12:58 GMT, Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Community service breaches rise

Men working
A Scottish Government said many of the breaches were "minor"

The number of Community Service Orders has risen by 4% but more than a third are broken, official figures have revealed.

A total of 3,762 were successfully completed in 2007/08, but 2,063 were were not - a 14% increase in breaches.

A Scottish Government spokesman said many of the breaches were minor and may have been reissued by the courts.

The justice secretary welcomed a 22% rise in Probation Orders which required the offender to carry out unpaid work.

Kenny MacAskill said these type of orders helped to tackle reoffending.

'Flexible approach'

Speaking as he visited a workshop in Dunfermline where offenders carry out unpaid work, he said: "I'm pleased the courts are imposing more community sentences, particularly requiring those placed on probation to do unpaid work to benefit communities.

"This latter disposal, enabling both payback and rehabilitation of the offender, provides a flexible approach recommended in the independent Prisons Commission's report, to which we will be responding very shortly."

But opposition parties criticised the number of breaches of community sentences.

Labour justice spokesman Richard Baker said: "Kenny MacAskill has said he wants to take 4,000 offenders out of jail, bit he has presided over a significant increase in the number of breaches of community sentences and reduced investment in effective alternatives to custody.

"Communities which are suffering from crime need to be sure that community sentences are tough and that they are carried out properly by offenders."

Tory justice spokesman Bill Aitken said he was not surprised by the figures.

He said: "When you have an SNP government so hell-bent on emptying our jails and finding alternatives to custodial sentences, such figures are inevitable."

The Criminal Justice Social Work statistics for 2007/08 also revealed a 14% drop in the number of Drug Treatment and Testing Orders in the last year.

The number issued by the courts fell to 601 last year, from 696 in 2006-07, and about a third of them were broken.



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