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Statistical Bulletin CrJ/2005/10: RECORDED CRIME IN SCOTLAND, 2004/05

Descriptionrecorded crime publication
ISBN0755927826
Official Print Publication Date
Website Publication DateOctober 25, 2005

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ISBN 0 7559 2782 6
ISSN 0264 1178

This document is also available in pdf format (376k)

Contents

1. Introduction
2. Main points
3. Commentary: Introduction and impact of Scottish Crime Recording Standard
4. Commentary: Recorded crime in Scotland
5. Commentary: Recorded crimes and offences by police force
6. Appendix of tables
7. Annex: Notes on statistics used in this bulletin
Returns
Recording issues
Reporting practices
Revision to recorded crime series: offending while on bail
Crimes and offences cleared up
Classification
Scottish Crime Survey
Classification of Crimes and Offences
SCOTTISH EXECUTIVE STATISTICAL SERVICES
Correspondence and enquiries

1. Introduction

1.1 This bulletin presents statistics on crimes and offences recorded and cleared up by the eight Scottish police forces in 2004/05. It forms part of The Scottish Executive series of statistical bulletins on the criminal justice system. Statistics of crimes and offences recorded by the police provide a measure of the volume of crime with which the police are faced. At the request of users and data providers, consulted through the SCOTSTAT Crime and Justice Committee, statistical bulletins in the criminal justice series have been changed to present information on a financial year basis.

1.2 In April 2004, the police implemented the Scottish Crime Recording Standard ( SCRS), which means that no corroborative evidence is required initially to record a crime related incident as a crime if so perceived by the victim. In consequence of this more victim oriented approach, the introduction of this new recording standard was expected to increase the numbers of minor crimes recorded by the police, such as minor crimes of vandalism and minor thefts and offences of petty assault and breach of the peace. However, it was expected that the SCRS would not have much impact on the figures for the more serious crimes such as serious assault, sexual assault, robbery or housebreaking.

Chart 1 Crimes and offences recorded by the police 1930 -1994 then 1995/96 - 2004/05

Chart 1 Crimes and offences recorded by the police 1930 -1994 then 1995/96 - 2004/05

2. Main points
  • Trends in the recorded crime figures between 2003/04 and 2004/05 have been affected by the introduction of the Scottish Crime Recording Standard ( SCRS) which, as anticipated, has increased the numbers of minor crimes recorded by the police, such as minor crimes of vandalism and minor thefts.
  • The total number of crimes recorded by the police increased by 6 per cent between 2003/04 and 2004/05. In 2004/05, the Scottish police recorded 438,093 crimes. The figures reflected increases in the numbers of recorded crimes of fire-raising and vandalism, and some other low level crimes of dishonesty; these increases can be ascribed to the introduction of the SCRS.
  • However, the number of non-sexual crimes of violence recorded by the police decreased by 3 per cent between 2003/04 and 2004/05, to total 14,700. The SCRS was not anticipated to have much impact on crimes in this group.
  • The number of crimes in the indecency group increased by 8 per cent, from 6,786 in 2003/04 to 7,324 in 2004/05 but numbers are still below the levels observed in 1997/98 and 1998/99.
  • Within the indecency group, recorded cases of rape & attempted rape increased by 7 per cent to reach 1,109, the highest number ever recorded. This reflects continued pro-active efforts by police to encourage the reporting of such crimes and the increase is more than accounted for by reporting of almost 100 historical crimes in Lothian and Borders, some dating back over 40 years.
  • In spite of the impact of the SCRS in increasing the numbers of petty thefts recorded, the number of crimes of dishonesty decreased for the sixth consecutive year to stand at 210,365 cases in 2004/05. Three categories of crimes of dishonesty showed decreases. These were housebreaking, theft of a motor vehicle and theft from a motor vehicle by opening a lockfast place. These categories were not anticipated to be affected by the new recording standard.
  • Recorded cases of Vandalism (including fire-raising and malicious mischief) increased by 24 per cent to total 128,566 in 2004/05. This increase is thought to be entirely due to the introduction of the SCRS.
  • The crime clear-up rate decreased slightly from 47 per cent to 45 per cent. This is an anticipated effect of the new crime recording standard. Despite this decrease however, clear up rates remain high and the levels have generally been increasing steadily over the past quarter century, from a 30 per cent clear up rate in 1982.
  • In 2004/05 the police recorded 632,982 offences, the highest number ever recorded and an increase of 4 per cent from the number in 2003/04. This was largely due to two factors; the increases shown in offences such as petty assault and breach of the peace, as a direct result of the introduction of the SCRS, and an increase in speeding offences, reflecting the continued impact of Camera Safety Partnerships.
  • All 8 forces showed an increase in the number of crimes recorded in 2004/05 compared to 2003/04, ranging from less than half a per cent to 8 per cent. In all forces, the increases in the total number of crimes recorded reflected increases in the numbers of recorded crimes of vandalism and other low level crimes such as shoplifting and other theft. This was an anticipated effect of the introduction of the SCRS.
3. Commentary: Introduction and impact of Scottish Crime Recording Standard

3.1 Trends in the recorded crime figures between 2003/04 and 2004/05 have been affected by the introduction of the Scottish Crime Recording Standard ( SCRS) which, as anticipated, has increased the numbers of minor crimes recorded by the police, such as minor crimes of vandalism and minor thefts.

3.2 Unfortunately it was not possible to estimate the exact impact of the new recording standard on the recorded crime figures because, around the time that the new standard was implemented, police also introduced centralised call centres which encouraged the reporting of incidents to the police. It had been hoped that the underlying trends in crime would be monitored through a new, much larger, Scottish Crime and Victimisation Survey ( SCVS). Unfortunately, this has not proved possible.

3.3 In 2002 an independent fundamental review of the Scottish Crime Survey ( SCS) was undertaken in order to examine more effective ways of measuring unrecorded crime in Scotland. Two particular concerns were to enable the disaggregation of findings to police force area level in order to have a valid comparison with local recorded crime, and to facilitate the provision of reliable estimates of more serious and less frequently occurring crimes, such as serious assault and robbery. The review concluded that switching to a telephone methodology was the only cost-effective way of increasing the sample size enough to achieve these goals. As a result of this, the SCVS, a continuous telephone survey with 27,000 interviews annually, was launched in June 2004.

3.4 The first 12 months of the SCVS were treated as a strict monitoring period. This monitoring was directed and overseen by the SCVS Technical Group, which included independent survey experts. As part of this monitoring, a face-to-face survey was run alongside the telephone survey for the first 4 months, and data from the 2 surveys were calibrated in order to assess the validity of the telephone methodology for measuring crime in Scotland. The results of this calibration exercise demonstrated that the telephone survey was not measuring victimisation accurately. Comparison of the figures showed that the telephone survey methodology changed the way people responded to the crime survey and response rates were lower than expected. In addition, households subscribing to the Telephone Preference Service were inadvertently excluded from the sample between June and December 2004. This resulted in inconsistent sampling over the fieldwork period. After considering the results of the calibration exercise, the SCVS Technical Group concluded that telephone surveying was not an appropriate methodology for measuring crime in Scotland.

4. Commentary: Recorded crime in Scotland

4.1 The total number of crimes recorded by the police in 2004/05 was 438,093 crimes, 6 per cent more than in 2003/04. Levels of recorded crimes had previously been decreasing, and last year's figure of 414,221 was the lowest level of recorded crime for nearly a quarter of a century. The 2004/05 figures reflected increases in the numbers of recorded crimes of fire-raising and vandalism, and some other low level crimes of dishonesty; these increases can be ascribed to the introduction of the SCRS.

Chart 2 Crimes recorded by the police by crime group, 1971 - 1994 then 1995/96 - 2004/05

Chart 2 Crimes recorded by the police by crime group, 1971 - 1994 then 1995/96 - 2004/05

4.2 The number of non-sexual crimes of violence recorded by the police decreased by a further 3 per cent between 2003/04 and 2004/05, to total 14,700, which is the lowest level since 1998/99. Within this category recorded robberies decreased by 10 per cent to total 3,736, the lowest level since 1980. Other non-sexual crimes of violence decreased by 9 per cent from 3,512 to 3,196, while the number of serious assaults etc. recorded increased by 3 per cent to 7,768, with Strathclyde accounting for most of the increase. Increases in serious assaults were linked by some forces to an increase in alcohol related crime, and the consumption of alcohol and drugs generally was thought to be an influencing factor.

4.3 The number of crimes in the indecency group increased from 6,786 in 2003/04 to 7,324 in 2004/05, an 8 per cent increase. However, the numbers are still below the levels observed in 1997/98 and 1998/99. Within this group recorded cases of rape & attempted rape increased by 7 per cent to reach 1,109, the highest number ever recorded. This partially reflects pro-active efforts by the police to encourage the reporting of such crimes. However the rise is more than accounted for by the reporting of almost 100 historical crimes in Lothian & Borders, some of which dated back over 40 years. Cases of indecent assault increased by 4 per cent to 1,497 in 2004/05 and the number of crimes of lewd and indecent behaviour increased by 7 per cent to 2,786 in 2004/05. The number of crimes recorded in the "other" sub-group increased by 12 per cent to total 1,932 in 2004/05. Although the SCRS is not thought to have affected the figures for rape and attempted rape, it may have led to increased recording of the other categories of crimes of indecency.

4.4 In spite of the impact of the SCRS in increasing the numbers of petty thefts recorded, the number of crimes of dishonesty decreased for the sixth consecutive year, although by less than half a per cent, to stand at 210,365 cases in 2004/05. Three categories of crimes of dishonesty showed decreases. These were housebreaking, theft of a motor vehicle and theft from a motor vehicle by opening a lockfast place. These categories were not anticipated to be affected by the new recording standard. The number of housebreakings fell by 4 per cent during 2004/05, reflecting decreases in both domestic and non-domestic premises, and at 34,959 is less than third of the level recorded in the early 1990's. Thefts from motor vehicles decreased by 24 per cent to 20,403 and the thefts of a motor vehicle decreased by 11 per cent to 15,633. Several police forces attributed the decreases in vehicle crime to improved car security. The number of frauds increased by 20 per cent, mostly reflecting a small number of high volume fraud investigations in Dumfries and Galloway and Lothian and Borders.

4.5 Recorded cases of Vandalism (including fire-raising and malicious mischief) increased by 24 per cent to total 128,566 in 2004/05. This increase is thought to be entirely due to the introduction of the Scottish Crime Recording Standard.

4.6 Within the other crimes group, crimes of handling an offensive weapon increased by 3 per cent to 9,545 in 2004/05. Recorded drugs crimes decreased by one per cent from 42,275 in 2003/04 to 41,823 in 2004/05, showing a small reverse in the trend seen over the last few years.

4.7 It was expected that additional crimes recorded because of the new recording standard would be unlikely to be detected. In fact, the number of crimes cleared up by the police decreased slightly (0.6 per cent) from 196,480 in 2003/04 to 195,203 in 2004/05. In consequence, as anticipated, the introduction of the SCRS has led to a slight decrease in the clear-up rate from 47 per cent to 45 per cent. Despite this decrease, clear up rates remain high and the levels have generally been increasing steadily over the past quarter century, from a 30 per cent clear up rate in 1982.

Chart 3 Recorded crime clear-up rate 1930 - 1994 then 1995/96 - 2004/05

Chart 3 Recorded crime clear-up rate 1930 - 1994 then 1995/96 - 2004/05

4.8 In 2004/05 the police recorded 632,982 offences, the highest number ever recorded, and an increase of 4 per cent compared with the 2003/04 figure of 607,621, with increases in three out of the four categories of miscellaneous offences. The major reason behind this increase was the impact of the SCRS, as seen in the increases in petty assault (29 per cent), breach of the peace (15 per cent) and the overall increase in other miscellaneous offences. Although motor vehicle offences recorded declined overall, there was an increase of 5per cent in recorded speeding offences which can be attributed to the continued impact of the Scottish Safety Camera Programme. This is delivered through local partnerships involving the police, local authorities and the trunk roads network and has allowed safety camera enforcement to be targeted at roads with a history of both speeding and accidents causing injury, and so has contributed to a reduction in the number of road accident casualties.

5 Commentary: Recorded crimes and offences by police force

5.1Central

In spite of the new crime recording standard, the total number of crimes recorded in the Central police force area increased by less than half a per cent between 2003/04 and 2004/05 to 19,816. There has been a decrease of 9 per cent in crimes of dishonesty, but an increase of 19 per cent in vandalism, due to the introduction of the SCRS. Similarly, the 18 per cent increase in miscellaneous offences recorded has been attributed by the police to the impact of the SCRS.

5.2 Dumfries & Galloway

Crimes recorded in the Dumfries & Galloway police force area increased overall by 2 per cent between 2003/04 and 2004/05 to total 10,679. Decreases in non-sexual crimes of violence, crimes of indecency and other crimes were offset by increases in areas such as vandalism and fraud. The increases in vandalism are an anticipated effect of the SCRS. The increases in the numbers of recorded frauds reflect 3 high volume fraud investigations. The number of miscellaneous offences recorded increased by 9 per cent due to the SCRS

Chart 4 Total number of crimes recorded per 10,000 population in 2004/05 by police force area

Chart 4 Total number of crimes recorded per 10,000 population in 2004/05 by police force area

5.3 Fife

The number of crimes recorded in the Fife police area increased by 7 per cent between 2003/04 and 2004/05 to total 34,862. This can be directly attributed to the introduction of the SCRS. The 33 per cent increase in miscellaneous offences recorded is also the result of the SCRS.

5.4 Grampian

The number of recorded crimes in the Grampian police force area increased by 5 per cent between 2003/04 and 2004/05 to total 40,956 crimes. Again, this is attributable to the introduction of the SCRS, which has seen an increase in vandalism of 22 per cent. Similarly the introduction of the new recording standard led to an increase of 37 per cent in miscellaneous offences recorded.

5.5 Lothian & Borders

Recorded crime in the Lothian & Borders police force area increased by 4 per cent to total 84,116. As well as a large increase in vandalism resulting from the introduction of the SCRS, there was an increase in fraud of 56 per cent (up from 4,630 crimes to 7,242), reflecting the effects of Operation Tribune, an initiative which investigated insurance fraud and another cheque/credit card fraud. The increase of 24 per cent in miscellaneous offences recorded reflects the effect of the SCRS.

5.6 Northern

The number of crimes recorded in the Northern police force area increased by 8 per cent between 2003/04 and 2004/05 to total 15,660. This was again very largely due to an increase of 23 per cent in crimes of vandalism following the introduction of the SCRS. A decrease of 34 per cent in thefts of motor vehicles has been attributed to the National Intelligence Model, good detection work and the availability of more secure vehicles. As with most other forces, the increase of 14 per cent in miscellaneous offences recorded reflects the impact of the SCRS.

5.7 Strathclyde

The number of recorded crimes in Strathclyde police force area increased by 7 per cent between 2003/04 and 2004/05 to total 200,159. This has been attributed mainly to the introduction of the SCRS with anticipated increases in other theft (13 per cent) and fire-raising and vandalism (32 per cent). In spite of the increases in the numbers of petty thefts recorded, the number of most crimes of dishonesty recorded decreased by 1 per cent. However, the introduction of the SCRS led to a 19 per cent increase in the numbers of miscellaneous offences recorded.

5.8 Tayside

The number of recorded crimes in the Tayside police force area increased by 6 per cent in 2004/05 to total 31,845. There were net increases in most groups of about 6 per cent, but a similar percentage decrease in crimes of indecency. In the case of the increase in non-sexual crimes of violence, most incidents of a serious violent crime nature occur at weekends in the late evening or early morning with consumption of alcohol or drugs being an influencing factor. In contrast to the other police forces, the numbers of miscellaneous offences recorded decreased by 5 per cent between 2003/04 and 2004/05, in spite of the introduction of the SCRS.

Chart 5 Number of crimes of domestic housebreaking recorded by the police per 10,000 population in 2004/05

List of Tables

Table 1: Crimes recorded by the police, Scotland, 1995/96 - 2004/05
Table 2: Offences recorded by the police, Scotland, 1995/96 - 2004/05
Table 3: Crimes and offences cleared up by the police as a percentage of those recorded, Scotland, 1995/96 - 2004/05
Table 4a: Crimes and offences recorded by police force area, 2004/05
Table 4b: Crimes and offences recorded by police force area per 10,000 population, 2004/05
Table 5: Crimes and offences recorded per 10,000 population, percentage change in total number recorded and percentage cleared up by police force area, 2004/05
Table 6: Number of crimes recorded by the police and percentage cleared up by council area, 2004/05
Table 7: Number of crimes recorded by the police per 10,000 population and crime index, by council area, 2004/05
Table 8: Number of crimes recorded by the police, rate per 10,000 population and index of rate for selected crimes by council area, 2004/05
Table A1: Crimes and offences recorded and cleared up by the police, Scotland, 2000/01 - 2004/05
Table A2: Crimes of indecency recorded by the police, Scotland, 1995/96 - 2004/05
Table A3: Theft by housebreaking (including attempts and housebreaking with intent), 1995/96 - 2004/05
Table A4: Theft by housebreaking (including attempts and housebreaking with intent) by police force area, 2004/05
Table A5: Theft of and from motor vehicles recorded by the police, 1995/96 - 2004/5
Table A6: Drugs crimes recorded by the police, Scotland, 1995/96 - 2004/05
Table A7: Racially aggravated offences (including harassment and conduct) by police force area, 2000/01 - 2004/05