Offenders sentenced to community payback orders carried out more than 930,000 hours of work or other activities in the community, the Justice Secretary told MSPs.

Kenny MacAskill said the orders, which are an alternative to prison for some criminals, had been "successfully implemented".

More than 10,000 community payback orders (CPOs) started between April 2011 and March 2012, he said. Mr MacAskill told MSPs: "The new community payback order has been successfully implemented, with 10,228 orders commenced between April 2011 and March 2012. As a result, 934,502 hours of unpaid work or other activity has been undertaken in communities across Scotland."

He spoke as MSPs at Holyrood debated the issue of community justice.

Labour's Lewis Macdonald accepted the orders had "indeed increased the number of unpaid work handed down by the courts, in some cases several times over".

But he stressed: "That is only worthwhile if the orders are actually obeyed.

Tory MSP Margaret Mitchell said: "The latest figures show less than one-third of CPOs handed out last year were completed within a year."