A recent Audit Scotland report, Reducing reoffending in Scotland, has looked at the efficiency and effectiveness of approaches taken to address the problem of reoffending.

Reconviction rates have remained relatively static over the past decade, and 30% of offenders are reconvicted within one year. In 2010/11, 9,500 people convicted (one in five of convicted offenders) had at least ten previous convictions.

The Scottish Prison Service, Community Justice Authorities and Scottish Government spent £419 million in 2010/11 dealing with people convicted in court. Less than a third of this, £128 million, was spent on reducing reoffending.

The report says Community Justice Authorities, established in 2007, have struggled to achieve their role of improving joint working, due to the way they were set up and inflexible funding. It says the Scottish Government should review how offenders are managed in the community to ensure that: those working with offenders have clear and shared goals; there is clear accountability; and arrangements promote what is effective in reducing reoffending.

Auditor General for Scotland, Caroline Gardner, said: “Almost £130 million is spent a year on reducing reoffending and it is important this money is spent effectively. However, access and availability of services vary across the country, and there is a mismatch between what is delivered and what is known to work to reduce reoffending. In particular, there needs to be more support for people serving short term sentences.”