|The 1996 Scottish Crime Survey (SCS) was the fourth in a series of national surveys carried out in Scotland. Crime surveys are a well established means of collecting information about the nature and extent of certain crimes experienced by individuals and households during the previous year. By asking people directly about their experiences they can provide additional information which is not available from other sources, such as whether or not the crime was reported to the police, and offer an important complement to information from statistics of crimes recorded by the police.|
- Estimates derived from the 1996 SCS suggest that in 1995 just under 1 million crimes were committed against individuals and private households in Scotland. This was 8% less than the number of crimes estimated in the 1993 SCS. Approximately 70% of crimes were against property and of these about half involved motor vehicles.
- The estimated number of crimes for each offence category returned to a level close to, or below, 1981 estimates.
- For all types of crime in the SCS, rates of victimisation were lower in Scotland than those recorded in England and Wales by the 1996 British Crime Survey (BCS) conducted at the same time.
- Roughly 9 in 10 respondents saw crime as a 'serious' problem in Scotland. However, since 1993 there has been a decrease in the proportion of people who were worried about becoming a victim of specific types of crime such as housebreaking or assault.
- For those types of crime that can be compared, only an estimated 37% of SCS crimes ended up in the police statistics on recorded crime. This was similar to the proportion in 1992.
- Survey estimates suggest that the number of violent crimes decreased slightly between 1992 and 1995. There was a sharp drop in the estimated number of acquisitive crimes, but a slight increase in vandalism.
- Since the 1993 survey, there has been a small increase in public satisfaction with police performance. Seventy two per cent of respondents in central and southern Scotland said that the police in their area did a 'very good' or 'fairly good' job. About two-thirds of those who reported incidents to the police in 1995 said they were 'very' or 'fairly' satisfied with the way the police handled the matter.
|This paper presents key findings from the 1996 Scottish Crime Survey (SCS). This is a large scale household survey of public experiences and perceptions of crime, based on interviews with 5,045 adults (aged 16 or over) throughout Scotland. As with all previous surveys, the 1996 SCS relates to crimes reported to have happened during the previous year.|
|This is the fourth in a series of crime surveys in Scotland. In 1982 and 1988, Scotland participated in sweeps of the British Crime Survey (BCS), co-ordinated by the Home Office. Data collection was restricted to southern and central Scotland. The 1993 SCS, commissioned by The Scottish Office, was the first to cover the whole of mainland Scotland together with the larger islands. The 1996 SCS had the same geographic coverage.|
|To allow meaningful comparisons with earlier crime surveys, data showing trends are based on the subset of interviews carried out in the same areas of Scotland covered prior to the 1993 SCS. This is necessary because lower rates of victimisation in Grampian and, particularly, the Highlands and Islands would otherwise tend to depress estimates of crime relative to earlier surveys. A total of 4,290 interviews were conducted in the restricted survey area in 1996. Statements about the nature or extent of crime in Scotland as a whole, or comparisons with the 1993 SCS only, are based on the full geographic area covered.|
|Throughout this paper, the term 'crime' is used to refer to any incident of victimisation recorded by the survey. No technical distinction is made between 'crimes' and 'offences', as in the police recorded crime statistics.|
|Why crime surveys?|
|It is widely accepted that victimisation surveys provide an important complement to the statistics compiled by the police. Not all crimes are reported to the police and, of those that are, not all are subsequently recorded. Thus, by asking the public directly about their experiences, crime surveys provide a fuller picture of the extent of and trends in most types of victimisation. Crime surveys also allow the opportunity to explore issues related to crime, such as the impact on victims, fear of crime, and attitudes towards the police.|
|Limitations of the Data|
|The SCS cannot provide a complete picture of crime in Scotland. As a sample of adults in household units, the SCS does not collect information about crimes committed against public or corporate bodies, individuals not resident in households and those aged less than 16.|
|A further limitation is that the SCS is dependent on the willingness of respondents to take part in the survey and to remember incidents and report them accurately.|
|The SCS results, like those of any sample survey, are also subject to sampling error and the findings should therefore not be seen as exact measures but as indicators set within margins of error.|
|The four Scottish sweeps were carried out in essentially the same way. However, when comparing survey results, the possibility should be recognised that public perceptions of crime and victimisation may have changed since 1981, and that this may affect recall and the nature of how matters are reported.|
|The SCS does not claim, therefore, to measure the 'true' level of crime in Scotland. For many kinds of crime, however, including the most prevalent, it provides a better indicator of levels and trends in victimisation than police recorded crime statistics.|
|How much crime?|
|Estimates of crime in Scotland can be calculated by multiplying the SCS victimisation rates by the total number of households and adults in Scotland. From the 1996 SCS, it is estimated that just under 1 million crimes were committed against individuals and households during 1995. This is a fall of approximately 8% from the number of crimes estimated to have been committed in 1992.|
|Figure 1 shows that just over 70% of the crimes recorded by the survey were committed against property and a third of all crimes involved motor vehicles.|
|Figure 1 Proportions of SCS crimes in each Aggregated Crime Category|
|Source: 1996 SCS (All Scotland)|
|Crimes involving violence (robbery and assault) were proportionally few, accounting for 16% of the total. This proportion is the same as that recorded in the 1993 SCS (16%).|
|Approximately 1 in 4 people had been the victim of at least one crime covered by the survey during 1995. One in 10 had been victims on two or more occasions. Certain groups of people were at more risk than others for certain types of crime. For example, those most at risk from violent street crime were young men, and those least at risk were the elderly. A full analysis of differential risks will be included in the overview report of the survey.|
|Comparison with police recorded crime statistics|
|Because not all crimes are reported to the police and, of those that are, not all are subsequently recorded by them, there is a sizeable gap between SCS estimates of crime and those of the police recorded crime statistics.|
|Only certain categories of crime are directly comparable between the SCS figures and the police statistics: vandalism, housebreaking, theft of a motor vehicle, theft of a bicycle, robbery and assault. These categories are collectively referred to as the 'comparable sub-set' of crimes. This sub-set accounts for 54% of all crimes reported in the survey. Figure 2 shows, for each category, the number of crimes estimated in the SCS and the number recorded by the police.|
|Figure 2 Levels of recorded and unrecorded crime|
|Source: 1996 SCS (All Scotland), police recorded crime statistics|
|The number of comparable crimes recorded by the police in 1995 is only 37% of the total number of crimes estimated by the SCS. This proportion was similar to that recorded for 1992.|
|Reporting to the police|
|Victims of crimes were asked whether the incident had been reported to the police. The earlier surveys showed a sizeable increase in reporting between 1981 and 1992, as shown in table 1. The results of the 1996 SCS show that this steady increase has tailed off, with half of all crimes in central and southern Scotland being reported to the police in 1995.|
|Table 1: Trends in reporting crime to the police 1981 - 1995|