Criminals given work to do rather than jail time are half as likely to reoffend as those who go to prison for six months or less, a new report shows.
The Scottish Government report also shows that work projects deliver tangible benefits to the community, with work such as environmental improvements, refurbishing buildings, gardening, graffiti removal and assistance for the elderly or disabled.
The annual summary of local authority Community Payback Order reports that people who completed unpaid work said it was demanding but rewarding and gave them a chance to learn skills.
Falkirk West MSP and Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: “The evidence demonstrates short prison sentences do little to rehabilitate or reduce reoffending.
“On the other hand, community sentences give people a chance to break the cycle of offending while ensuring they pay back for the damage their actions have caused.”
“Our approach is clearly working, with reconviction rates now at a 17-year low.”