Criminals breach more than third of community payback orders

Liam Kerr MSP
Liam Kerr MSP
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MORE than a third of community payback orders handed out to Capital criminals are breached, the Evening News can reveal.

There were 1,523 CPOs doled out at Edinburgh Sheriff Court over the last year, while 640 failed to be completed.

Critics have claimed the figures are evidence of widespread “abuse” of the system.

But the Scottish Government said completion rates have increased since SNP were in power – and backed the “effective” orders.

The Scottish Government unveiled CPOs with much fanfare in 2011 to replace community service, supervision and probation orders.

Order requirements can include unpaid work, compensation, drug or alcohol treatment and mental health assessments.

Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary Liam Kerr said: “Community Payback Orders clearly have a part to play in our justice system, but more and more we are seeing the system being abused.

“With so many of them being breached in Edinburgh alone it’s clear that they are not offering an effective form of punishment.

“We need to see a review of the system so that criminals pay back their debt to society, and don’t just get away scot-free.”

Those who breach the orders can face jail or a new CPO being imposed, among other measures.

Figures reveal there were 1,436 CPOs imposed in 2015/16 with 686 breaches and 1,459 in 2014/15 with 616 breaches.

There were also 212 Restriction of Liberty Orders in 2016/17 with 72 breaches – more than double the number in 2015/16 and 2014/15.

Sheriffs in Edinburgh also dished out 170 Drug Treatment and Testing Orders over the last year with 16 breaches – half the number in 2014/15.

Livingston sheriffs handed out 517 CPOs in the last year, with 264 breaches.

There were 86 Restriction of Liberty Orders given with 70 breaches and 22 Drug Treatment and Testing Orders with six breaches.

Nationally, completion rates for community sentences have increased from 62 per cent in 2006-07 to 68 per cent in 2015/16.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Under this government, completion rates for community sentences have increased.

“Individuals on CPOs cannot simply ignore the court’s punishment.

“There are penalties for breaching a CPO, which can include imprisonment.

“The evidence is clear – community sentences are more effective than short prison sentences.

“Individuals released from sentences of 12 months or less are reconvicted nearly twice as often as those given a Community Payback Order.”

andy.shipley@edinburghnwes.copm