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Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2012-13

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3 The Risk and Characteristics of Crime

3.1 Introduction

As reported in Chapter 2, the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS) 2012/13 estimated that approximately 815,000 crimes occurred in Scotland and that 16.9% of adults were victims of crime. Property crime accounted for 71% of all crime and violent crime for 29%.

This chapter examines the nature and characteristics of crime and covers the varying risk of being a victim of crime. This includes when and where crime happened and the characteristics of offenders. It concludes with looking at violent crimes and the use of weapons and the role of alcohol and drugs.

Main Findings

Varying risk of crime

  • In 2012/13, 16.9% of adults in Scotland were estimated to have been victims of a crime within the scope of the survey.
  • Those aged 16-24 were most likely to fall victim of crime (24%), compared with other age groups.
  • The risk of being a victim of any crime was higher for those adults living in the 15% most deprived areas of Scotland: 21% compared with 16% for those living in the rest of Scotland

Repeat victimisation (victim of same type of crime more than once in the last year)

  • 4% of adults were repeat victims of property crime and 1% of adults were repeat victims of violent crime.

Characteristics of crime

  • 45% of all crime happened immediately outside the home, which is related to property crime making up the majority of crimes.
  • Almost one in three violent crimes (29%) happened between 9 pm and 3 am on a weekend.

Characteristics of offenders (as perceived by victims)

  • Males (73%) were more likely than females to be offenders (14%), with around one-in-ten (11%) where there were groups of both male and female offenders.
  • 70% of offenders were thought to be aged between 16 and 39, while school age children were more likely to commit property crime than violent crime (29% and 12% respectively).

Weapons used in crime

  • Victims reported that the offender had something they used or threatened to use as a weapon in 17% of all crime (where the victim saw or had any contact with the offender).

Alcohol or drug related violent crime

In 59% of violent crime the victim said the offender was under the influence of alcohol, and under the influence of drugs in 29% of violent crimes.

3.2 Varying risk of crime

Just under one-in-six of adults aged 16 and over (16.9%) were victims of at least one crime covered by the survey. As was seen in Chapter 2, 14.8% were the victim of property crime and 3.1% were the victim of violent crime. This rate is also described as the risk of being a victim of crime, and is an indication of the average risk across the population. In reality the level of risk is specific to individual adults according to their particular personal, household and area characteristics. The next two sections discuss this varying risk in more detail.

Box 3.1: The varying risk of victimisation

Other crime surveys have demonstrated that risk varies among adults with differing personal, household and lifestyle characteristics. Particular features that increase risk have been identified through modelling BCS and other crime survey data. Features identified include personal characteristics, such as age and gender, and household attributes, such as a household's size, composition and type of accommodation. Lifestyle factors that are associated with differential risk include relative affluence and routine activities such as the proportion of time spent in or out of the home (Kershaw and Tseloni, 2005).

Area characteristics also influence the risk of crime. More property and violent crime have consistently been found in areas with higher levels of deprivation (Johnson et al., 2005). Urban areas, where areas of higher deprivation tend to be, have higher crime rates. As a result, there is a higher than average risk of victimisation to adults living in urban areas compared with those living in rural locations.

Analysis of BCS and other crime survey data has shown that, in low crime areas, the risk is more evenly distributed. In areas of high crime, it is concentrated in a relatively small number of households. This means that, in high crime areas, the risk to an individual household is relatively low, but those that are victims more often suffer repeated victimisation (Kershaw and Tseloni, 2005).

3.2.1 Varying risk of crime amongst adults

This section explores how the risk of being a victim of crime varies among adults in Scotland. It examines the varying risk of being a victim of crime overall, as well as separately for property crime and violent crime. The analysis only presents simple one-to-one relationships of age, gender and age by gender rather than more complex statistical relationships such as those described in Box 3.1 that might be identified through modelling.

Table 3.1 shows the risk of being a victim of any crime was slightly higher for males than for females: 18% of males had been the victim of at least one crime compared with 16% of females. The risk of being a victim of property crime was almost the same for males (15%) and females (14%) whilst males had a higher risk of being a victim of violent crime compared with females (4% cent and 2% respectively).

The risk of being a victim of any crime decreased with age. Just under a quarter (24%) of 16-24 year olds were at risk of being a victim of crime compared with around one-in-ten (9%) of those aged 60 or older. The risk of being a victim of property crime was similar for 16-24 year olds (18%) and 25-44 year olds (19%). The risk decreased with age thereafter so that 8% of those aged 60 or over were at risk of being a victim of property crime. Similarly, the risk of being a victim of violent crime decreased with age, from 8% for 16-24 year olds compared with less than 0.5% of those aged 60 or over.

Table 3.1: Varying risk of crime - proportion of adults who were victims of crime by age and gender

SCJS 2012/13

Percentage of adults Property crime Violent crime All SCJS crime Base
All 14.8 3.1 16.9 12,050
Gender
Male 15.3 4.2 18.2 5,210
Female 14.4 2.2 15.8 6,840
Age
16-24 18.1 8.2 23.7 970
25-44 18.7 4.3 21.6 3,590
45-59 15.2 1.9 16.3 3,110
60 or over 8.5 0.4 8.8 4,380
Age within gender
Male 16-24 19.4 11.2 27.0 440
Male 25-44 18.1 5.3 21.9 1,510
Male 45-59 15.1 2.4 16.3 1,350
Male 60 or over 9.7 0.4 10.1 1,900
Female 16-24 16.8 5.1 20.3 530
Female 25-44 19.2 3.3 21.3 2,070
Female 45-59 15.4 1.4 16.2 1,760
Female 60 or over 7.5 0.4 7.7 2,470

Base: Adults

Variable name: PREVSURVEYCRIME, PREVPROPERTY and PREVVIOLENT

Males aged 16-24 had the highest risk of being a victim of any crime (27%), compared to females aged 16-24 (20%). For violent crime, 16-24 year old males were at the highest risk (11%) and a little over twice as likely to be victim of violent crime compared to males 25-44 (5%) and females 16-24 (5%).

3.2.2 Varying risk of crime by area characteristics

This section explores how the risk of being a victim of crime in Scotland varied by area deprivation[22]. The analysis only presents simple one-to-one relationships rather than more complex statistical relationships such as those described in Box 3.1 that might be identified through modelling.

Figure 3.1 shows that the risk of being a victim of any crime was higher for those adults living in the 15% most deprived areas of Scotland: 21% compared with 16% for those living in the rest of Scotland.

Figure 3.1: Varying risk of violent and property crime by area deprivation

SCJS 2012/13

Figure 3.1: Varying risk of violent and property crime by area deprivation

Base: Adults (12,050); 15% most deprived (1,750); Rest of Scotland (10,290)

Variable name: PREVSURVEYCRIME, PREVPROPERTY and PREVVIOLENT

Similarly, the risk of property crime was higher for adults living in the 15% most deprived areas (18%) compared with those living in the rest of Scotland (14%). The risk of violent crime for adults living in the 15% most deprived areas was higher (5%) than for those in the rest of Scotland (3%).

3.3 Repeat victimisation

Individuals who have been the victim of the same type of crime more than once in the last year are defined as repeat victims. The repeat victimisation rate accounts for differences between estimates of crimes (incidence) and victims (prevalence). If every victim was the victim of only one crime in the previous 12 months, estimates of the number of crimes and the number of victims would be the same.

The SCJS 2012/13 estimated that 4% of adults were repeat victims of property crime and 1% of adults were repeat victims of violent crime.

Figure 3.2: Repeat victims as percentage of all victims within each crime group

SCJS 2012/13

Figure 3.2: Repeat victims as percentage of all victims within each crime group

Base: Households / adults who were victims in each crime group[23]

Variable name: Repeat victim variables[24]

Figure 3.2 shows that just under three-in-ten (29%) of victims of property crime were repeat victims, including, for vandalism where 28% of victims of vandalism were repeat victims. The percentage of repeat victims among victims of other types of property crime were lower, for example 8% of victims of personal theft (excluding robbery) were repeat victims.

Around a third (32%) of all incidents of violent crime were experienced by repeat victims of violent crime, as measured by the SCJS in 2012/13. On average repeat victims experienced three violent crimes in the 12 months prior to interview.[25]

3.4 Characteristics of crime

Information on where, and when, crimes happened as well as the characteristics of offenders and the use of weapons are provided in the following sections.

3.4.1 Where crime happened

Respondents were asked where the crime happened. Property crime makes up the majority of crime measured by the SCJS. Reflecting this, the main place where crime took place was immediately outside the home (45% of all crime happened immediately outside the home). This category includes incidents which took place on the street outside the home, on driveways, doorsteps, balconies and in the garden. An additional 12% of crime occurred in the home and 1% inside a garage, whilst 15% of crime happened in or near the victim's place of work (Table 3.2).

Table 3.2: Where crime happened

SCJS 2012/13

Percentage of SCJS crimes Property crime Violent crime All SCJS crime
Outside home 61 7 45
In/Near respondent/victim's place of work 8 32 15
Inside own home 11 13 12
In/Around a pub/bar/club 4 12 7
In/Around a shop/supermarket/shopping centre 4 12 7
At the home of a friend or relative 2 4 2
While travelling or near transport facilities 1 4 2
Inside garage 1 - 1
Some other place 6 16 9
Base 1,950 340 2,290

Base: Victims of crime

Variable name: QWH1, QWH3, QWH5 and QWH7

Over three-fifths of all property crime took place immediately outside the home (61%). In contrast, violent crime more commonly happened in a number of other locations; in or near the respondent's place of work (32%), inside or directly outside the victims' home (20%), in or around a shop, supermarket, shopping centre or precinct (12%), and or around a pub, bar or club (12%).

3.4.2 When crime happened

Respondents were asked whether the crime happened during the week or at the weekend, and at what time of day it happened; of those that responded and could remember (as shown in Table 3.3) 53% of crime happened on a weekday in comparison to 38% that happened on a weekend.

Table 3.3: When crime happened

SCJS 2012/13

Percentage of SCJS crimes Property crime Violent crime All SCJS crime
Weekday any time 54 48 53
Weekday morning (6am - noon) 5 8 6
Weekday afternoon (noon - 6pm) 16 15 15
Weekday evening (6pm - midnight) 12 19 14
Weekday night (midnight - 6am) 10 5 9
Weekend any time 33 49 38
Weekend morning (6am - noon) 1 - 1
Weekend afternoon (noon - 6pm) 5 4 5
Weekend evening (6pm - midnight) 8 23 12
Weekend night (midnight - 6am) 14 18 15
Base 1,950 340 2,290

Base: Victims of crime

Variable name: QWEE, QTIM and QTIM2

Note: Percentages for each crime for weekdays and weekends, as well as for times within weekday and weekend, do not add up to 100% as some respondents were unable to say when the crime had happened.

54% of property crime took place on a weekday and 33%, took place at the weekend, while 49% of violent crime took place at the weekend mostly between 6 pm and 6 am (41%).

Victims of violent crime were asked for more detail about when the incident happened. This additional information indicated that almost one in three violent crimes (29%) happened between around 9 pm and 3 am on a weekend.

3.4.3 Characteristics of offenders

Victims were asked whether they had any contact with the offender or offenders and whether they felt able to say anything about them. The victim was able to say something about the offender in 47% of crime overall. The victim was able to say something about the offender in 26% of property crimes compared with 96% of violent crimes.

Table 3.4 shows the age and gender characteristics of offenders - where the victim was able to say something about the offender. Offenders were more likely to be male (73%) than female (14%) (with another 11% where there was a groups of both male and female offenders). Males were more likely to be the offender in both property and violent crime.

70% of offenders were thought to be aged between 16 and 39, while school age children were more likely to commit property crime than violent crime (29% and 12% respectively).

Table 3.4: Characteristics of offenders

SCJS 2012/13

Percentage of SCJS crimes where respondent was able to say anything about the offender(s) Property crime Violent crime All SCJS crime
Gender
Male 67 77 73
Female 14 15 14
Person/People of both sexes 17 7 11
Age
School age 29 12 19
16-24 30 38 35
25-39 31 38 35
40 or over 13 16 15
Base 470 330 800

Base: Crimes where respondent was able to say anything about the offender(s)

Variable name: QSX and QAGE

Respondents were asked whether they knew or had seen the offender(s) before and, if so, how they knew them:

  • The offender was known well by the victim in around 14% of all crime.
  • The offender was known well by the victim in around 55% of crime where they knew or had seen the offender before.
  • The offender was well known to the victim in around 34% of all violent crime.
  • The offender was well known to the victim in around 65% of violent crime where they knew or had seen the offender before.
  • The offender was well known to the victim in around 7% of all property crime.
  • The offender was well known to the victim in around 42% of property crime where they knew or had seen the offender before.

In addition, where victims knew the offender well they were asked about their relationship with the offender.

It should be noted that information on the victim's relationship with the offender(s) is based on small numbers and differing base sizes for different questions, so survey estimates should be treated with caution.

For example, in 16% of crimes where the victim knew the offender well, the offender was a client or member of public contacted through work, in 13% a friend or acquaintance, and in 10% the current husband, wife or partner. However, this means, for example, that victims said only around 2% of all SCJS crime was committed by a client or member of public contacted through work.

3.4.4 Weapons used in crime

Victims reported that the offender had something they used or threatened to use as a weapon in around 6% of all crime.

Where the victim saw or heard what was going on, the offender was reported to have had a weapon in 17% of all crime (23% of violent crime).

In 84% of crime where victims reported that the offender had a weapon, the offender used or threatened to use the weapon (91% of violent crime where victims reported that the offender had a weapon).

Where victims reported that the offender had a weapon, a knife was the most common used weapon (39%) followed by a stick/ club/ hitting implement (24%). Victims reported the offender had a knife in 41% of violent crime in 2012/13, where the victim said the offender had a weapon. However, it should be noted that these estimates are based on small sample sizes and that no information was able to be presented on property crime.

Table 3.5: Use of weapons in crime

SCJS 2012/13

Percentage of SCJS crimes Property crime Violent crime All SCJS crime
Offender had a weapon * 23 17
Offender did not have a weapon * 75 76
Not known/no contact with the offender * 2 6
Base 370 340 710
Offender used or threatened to use the weapon * 91 84
Type of weapon
Knife * 41 39
Bottle * 24 21
Stick/ club/ hitting implement * 24 24
Stones/ bricks * 9 12
Screwdriver/ stabbing implement * 9 6
Any gun (includes pistol, rifle, shotgun, airgun) * 1 1
Other * 20 21
Base 30 80 100

Base: All crime where the offender(s) used or threatened to use the weapon

Variable name: QWEA1, QWEA2 and QWEW

3.4.5 Alcohol or drug related violent crime

Respondents were asked whether they thought the offender was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the offence. The estimate may not accurately reflect the proportion of violent crimes involving alcohol or drugs because it is reliant on the victim's perception of the state of the offender.

From the 343 victims reporting violent crimes, in 59% of violent crime the victim said the offender was under the influence of alcohol and victims also reported that the offender was under the influence of drugs in 29% of violent crimes.