Group 3 - Crimes of Dishonesty
Number of Crimes of dishonesty recorded in 2015-16:
Crimes of dishonesty account for almost half (47%) of all crime recorded in Scotland in 2015-16. Between 2014-15 and 2015-16, the number of Crimes of dishonesty recorded by the police in Scotland decreased by 9%, from 126,857 to 115,789.
Chart 10 below shows the number of Crimes of dishonesty from 1971 onwards. Crimes of dishonesty increased for a long period, peaking in 1991. Since then they have generally reduced, decreasing by 73% up to 2015-16. These crimes are now at the lowest level since 1971, the first year for which comparable crime groups are available.
Chart 10: Crimes of dishonesty recorded by the police, 19711 to 1994 then 1995‑96 to 2015-16 (Table 10)
1. Crimes recorded for the present crime groups are not available prior to 1971.
The national rate of recorded Crimes of dishonesty decreased from 237 per 10,000 population in 2014-15 to 216 crimes per 10,000 population in 2015-16. Rates varied significantly by local authority area, with the highest rate in the City of Edinburgh (384 per 10,000 population) and the lowest in the Orkney Islands (37 per 10,000 population) (Table 13).
Chart 11 shows the four largest categories within Crimes of dishonesty over the last ten years, and gives an indication of the trend and scale of each category. Other theft has consistently been the biggest contributor to Crimes of dishonesty. Shoplifting remains at a similar level to 2006-07, whereas Housebreaking, Other theft and Fraud have all decreased over time. While not displayed in Chart 12, the proportions of Theft by opening a lockfast place (OLP), Theft from a motor vehicle by OLP and Theft of a motor vehicle have decreased over the ten years from 2006-07 to 2015-16 (Table 6).
Chart 11: Crimes of dishonesty (showing four largest categories) in Scotland, 2006-07 to 2015-16
Other theft consists of Theft of pedal cycles, Theft from a motor vehicle not elsewhere classified and Theft not elsewhere classified (excl. motor vehicles).
This category is the largest in Crimes of dishonesty, accounting for 40% of these crimes. Over the ten year period from 2006-07 to 2015-16, Other theft has seen a decrease of 34%, including a 13% decrease from 53,539 in 2014-15 to 46,419 in 2015-16.
All but one local authority recorded a decrease in this category over the ten year period. This trend continued between 2014-15 and 2015-16 with all but three local authorities showing a decrease.
Shoplifting accounted for a quarter (25%) of Crimes of dishonesty. Shoplifting has increased by 4% from 27,364 in 2014-15 to 28,424 in 2015-16. This is the only category in Crimes of dishonesty that doesn't show a clear downward trend, having remained comparatively stable over the ten year period.
There was wide variation in the change across the 32 local authorities over the ten year period, with almost two thirds (20) showing a decrease in Shoplifting. This trend was reversed between 2014-15 and 2015-16 with around two thirds (21) of Scotland's local authorities recording an increase.
Housebreaking accounted for 15% of Crimes of dishonesty. Over the ten year period from 2006-07 to 2015-16 this crime has decreased by 42%, including a 14% decrease from 20,607 in 2014-15 to 17,637 in 2015-16. Table A2 shows that this has been driven by a 25% decrease in housebreaking of domestic non-dwellings.
All but one local authority area recorded a decrease in this category over the ten year period. Between 2014-15 and 2015-16, all but four (28) local authorities showed a decrease. The City of Edinburgh saw a 21% decrease in Housebreaking between 2014-15 and 2015-16, taking it below 2013-14 levels. However, the City of Edinburgh (with 9% of Scotland's population) still accounted for almost a quarter (22%) of crimes within this category.
Additional information provided by Police Scotland relating to Housebreaking is available in the 'Data Considerations' section below.
Crimes of Fraud account for 6% of Crimes of dishonesty. Despite fluctuation over the ten year period from 2006-07 to 2015-16, this category has seen a decrease of 21%. Numbers increased by 7% between 2014-15 and 2015-16.
Around three quarters (25) of local authority areas recorded a decrease in this category over the ten year period. However, around two thirds (21) of local authorities recorded an increase between 2014-15 and 2015-16.
Theft from a motor vehicle by opening a lockfast place (OLP):
Theft from a motor vehicle by OLP accounted for 4% of Crimes of dishonesty. Over the ten year period from 2006-07 to 2015-16 this crime has seen a large decrease of 71%, including a 19% decrease from 5,816 in 2014-15 to 4,684 in 2015-16.
All but two local authority areas recorded a decrease in this category over the ten year period. Between 2014-15 and 2015-16, around two thirds (22) of local authorities showed a decrease.
Theft of a motor vehicle:
Theft of a motor vehicle accounted for 4% of Crimes of dishonesty. Over the ten year period from 2006-07 to 2015-16 this crime has seen a large decrease of 66%, including a 7% decrease from 5,423 in 2014-15 to 5,028 in 2015-16.
All local authority areas recorded a decrease in this category over the ten year period. Between 2014-15 and 2015-16, less than half (14) of all local authorities showed a decrease.
Other crimes of dishonesty:
Other crimes of dishonesty includes Reset, Corruption, Embezzlement and other crimes of forgery which are not classified elsewhere.
Other crimes of dishonesty account for 3% of total Crimes of dishonesty. Over the ten year period from 2006-07 to 2015-16 this crime has seen a decrease of 37%, including a 7% decrease from 4,316 in 2014-15 to 4,004 in 2015-16.
All but four local authority areas recorded a decrease in this category over the ten year period. This trend continued between 2014-15 and 2015-16, as almost two thirds (19) of local authorities showed a decrease.
Theft by opening a lockfast place (OLP):
Theft by opening a lockfast place (OLP) accounted for 2% of Crimes of dishonesty. Over the ten year period from 2006-07 to 2015-16, this crime has seen a large decrease of 70%, including a 24% decrease from 2,879 in 2014-15 to 2,193 in 2015-16.
All local authority areas recorded a decrease in this category over the ten year period. Between 2014-15 and 2015-16, all but six (26) local authorities showed a decrease.
More than a quarter (27%) of the fall in Crimes of dishonesty can be attributed to a decrease in Housebreaking, and the City of Edinburgh contributed just under one third of the overall decrease in Housebreaking. Police Scotland have advised that operations such as the high profile Operation RAC in Edinburgh may have contributed to the overall drop in Crimes of dishonesty. Operation RAC was a resource intensive system of management and control around housebreaking. This targeted key offenders, ensuring a significant proportion were jailed and that bail curfews were rigorously enforced. Levels of housebreaking in Edinburgh were reported to fall as a result of this. A number of home safety and crime prevention events were also held across the city. Police Scotland also note that the 'Stronger North' joint partnership between them and other public bodies and stakeholders in Edinburgh may also have reduced youth offending through earlier and more effective interventions.
HMICS Crime Audit 2014
This bulletin primarily uses HMICS's 2016 Crime Audit to provide a quality assessment of crime recording decisions. This latest audit did not sample any incidents relating to Group 3 dishonest crime, as the previous audit in 2014 found compliance in this area to be good. As such, more value was to be gained from testing damage related incidents and crimes - which had not been included in the 2014 Crime Audit.
The 2014 Crime Audit included a specific focus on housebreaking. Of the 1,341 crimes examined that resulted from housebreaking incidents, 95% were counted and classified correctly. The audit report stated that this 'good Test 2 compliance rate reflects the fact that housebreaking incidents appear to be scrutinised carefully by crime management units and are therefore more likely to be accurate'. Most Test 2 errors related to the classification of the crime, and most of these related to whether the security of the building had been overcome (see page 24 of the 2014 HMICS report for further information).
Of the 1,664 incidents examined, 94% were closed correctly. Around half of the incidents which failed Test 1 did so because the incident record had not been updated with the results of the enquiry and the initial inference of criminality had not been dispelled. Around a quarter of Test 1 fails were thought to be crimes where the incident had not been followed up or the complainers had become uncooperative. Other Test 1 errors included incidents where the items stolen were deemed to be of no monetary value and therefore did not merit a crime report and where the owner of the property broken into was reporting the break-in 'for information only'.
HMICS Crime Audit 2016
As noted above, the more recent 2016 Crime Audit included a sample of incidents reported to the police which never resulted in a crime report (non-crime related incidents). Of the 1,138 incidents examined, 91.0% were closed correctly, a statistically significant improvement on the 2014 Audit. Despite this improvement, the audit found that some errors persisted in relation to allegations of fraud, particularly cyber-enabled fraud (potentially a Group 3 Dishonest Crime). The audit noted that some officers may be uncertain as to how to respond to these incidents and there is some confusion about the role of Action Fraud. HMICS have recommended that Police Scotland should work with Action Fraud to clarify its role in Scotland.
Further information on the 2016 audit, including definitions of terminology and tests used, can be found in Annex 2.
In addition to information on police recorded Crimes of dishonesty, the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS) provides a complementary outlook on some Crimes of dishonesty through asking respondents about their experiences of property crime.
A more detailed examination of comparisons between the SCJS and recorded crime is made within Chapter 5.
Key points from the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey:
Of the 688,000 crimes measured by the SCJS in 2014-15, 502,000 (73%) were property crimes. It is estimated that around 13% of adults in Scotland were a victim of property crime in 2014-15.
In 2014-15, vandalism accounted for 36% of property crime, followed by other household theft (including bicycle theft, 31%), personal theft (excluding robbery, 21%), all motor vehicle theft related incidents (8%) and housebreaking (4%).
Further detail on the comparable crime set is available in Section 5.3. As outlined there and in the Annex of the 2014-15 SCJS, the comparable acquisitive crime group in the SCJS includes theft or damage to personal or household property (including vehicles) which are included in a number of recorded crime groups, including Group 3 (Crimes of dishonesty) and Group 7 (Motor vehicle offences).
As outlined in Section 5.3, recorded acquisitive crime figures in the comparable category decreased by 24% between 2008-09 and 2014-15, while for the same period the SCJS estimates of acquisitive crime decreased by 23% (a statistically significant change in the SCJS results).