28 Apr, 2023

Digging into the Data

This year we launched a new website for the RMA – you’re looking at it! This new site uses our refreshed branding and has functionality that we’ve never had before. One of the special features of this site is a set of custom-built interactive data visualisations. They use data related to the Order for Lifelong Restriction (OLR) sentence.

What is the OLR sentence?

It’s a unique sentence only available to the high courts in Scotland. Introduced in 2006, it’s designed to protect the public from the risk of serious harm. The sentence has two parts. There’s the punishment part, which is the minimum time the person must spend in custody, and the ongoing lifelong risk management part.  

The Order for Lifelong Restriction (OLR) sentence can be given where there’s a pattern of serious violent offending that results in serious harm to the victims. Additionally, it can also be given where a court considers that the individual could commit such violence in the future. 

It’s important to us that people understand this unique sentence. Sometimes we find there’s a bit of misunderstanding around what the OLR means, how it’s imposed, or what a punishment part is. As we champion in FRAME, clear communication is so important when it comes to understanding something. We’re also committed to transparency. This is where our new interactive visualisations come in. 

What are the OLR data visualisations?

They’re a series of charts that contain data in relation to the OLR. We’ve built them to show the full process of the OLR sentence. This includes from when the sentence given in the high court, through to when someone with an OLR is released to be managed in the community.  

What’s more, these charts are interactive. This means you can find exactly what kind of information you’re looking for. You can see trends in areas such as risk rating, age or length of punishment part. Or, you can see how the number of Risk Management Plans submitted to us varies each year.

How do I use the OLR data visualisations?

Above each visualisation is a button labelled ‘Viewing Options’. This is one of the ways in which you can choose what data you’d like to see. All the charts are default to show you each year, but you can choose to focus on just one or two if you’d prefer. You can do this by: 

  • clicking ‘Viewing Options
  • clicking ‘Deselect All
  • choosing the years you want to see
  • clicking ‘Update‘ to see the data you’ve selected

Date Ranges

Or, you can look at a date range. So, if you’d like to see the total number across five years, you can do this by: 

  • clicking ‘Viewing Options
  • clicking ‘View by date range
  • choosing the years you want to see
  • clicking ‘Update‘ to see the data you’ve selected

Using the Filters

Each visualisation is set to show you every filter available. You can choose which of these you’d like to see.  

For example, if you’re looking to see if there’s a trend in how many people aged 31-40 have received an OLR sentence since 2006, on the OLR year-by-year chart, you’d:

  • click ‘Viewing Options
  • change ‘Type of Visualisation‘ to a ‘Line
  • click ‘Update

This will show you all age categories for all years, but on the right-hand side, you can un-check each one you don’t want to see. Then you’ll have a line chart showing you the trend of how many people aged 31-40 have received an OLR. Hover over the line to see each year in detail.  

We’ve created charts that show you data from Risk Assessment Orders, OLR by age category and length of punishment part. We’ve also got a chart that shows you how the number of Risk Management Plans and Annual Implementation Reports have changed over the years.  

We hope you’ll find this data useful in understanding trends related to the OLR sentence. We’ll continue to publish research relating to other areas of the sentence. Take a look at our most recent publication exploring offending behaviour.  

If you have any questions or any feedback on the data visualisations, get in touch with us communications@rma.gov.scot 

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