Criminals who are given community punishments instead of being locked up are less likely to reoffend, council officers have concluded.
A report presented to Dundee City Council’s community safety committee on the effectiveness of community payback orders (CPOs) found that 81% of orders handed out in 2017-18 were completed – up from 52% in 2011-12.
About £267,000 of unpaid work was carried out by offenders who, the council say, now feel a part of their communities.
Introduced under sweeping reforms at the start of this decade, CPOs are being used more often as an alternative to short prison sentences and as a means to rehabilitate prisoners.
While they are handed out by judges in court, council-appointed criminal justice social workers are responsible for assessing whether CPOs are suitable for offenders.
They do this by preparing reports for judges to refer to when considering sentencing.
More than 1,400 of these were prepared by Dundee City Council in 2017-18.
Social workers are also responsible for supervising the CPO to ensure it is completed.
Paul Clancy, executive director for children and family services, said community justice services are “well placed” to cope with an expected rise in the use of CPOs as an alternative to prison.
The number of CPOs issued in Dundee is falling year-on-year – 591 in 2017-18, down from 656 the year before – but Mr Clancy believes this coincides with a fall in overall reconviction rates.
In his report, he told councillors: “Since CPOs were introduced, the successful completion rate has increased from 52% in 2011-12 to 81% in 2017-18.
“In Dundee, CPOs continue to provide the courts with a credible community sentencing option which can benefit both the community and the person subject to the order.
“The number of orders has declined but this is due to a number of positive factors operating across the justice system.
“Successful completion rates are at their highest level, the use of short-term prison sentences is declining overall and re-offending rates have declined.”