Crime almost halved over the decade

Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2019-20.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf has welcomed official figures showing the volume of crime covered by the survey in Scotland is down 46% since 2008-09, with violent crime having fallen by nearly two-fifths (39%) over the same period.

The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS) 2019-20 of around 5,600 adults interviewed before COVID-19 restrictions came into effect – which includes incidents not reported to police – shows people are now less likely to be a victim – with one-in-eight (11.9%) of adults experiencing crime compared to one-in-five (20.4%) in 2008-09. As with the previous year, adults in Scotland were less likely to have experienced crime than those in England and Wales during 2019-20, with victimisation rates of 11.9% and 13.3% respectively.

The proportion of adults experiencing property crime has fallen from 18.0% to 10.0% with the estimated number of incidents almost halved (down 49%) over this period.

More people (77% in 2019-20 compared to 66% around a decade ago) report feeling very or fairly safe walking alone in their local area after dark. However, while both men and women were more likely to feel safe in their communities in 2019-20 than 2008-09, men remain more likely to feel safe – 90% compared to 65% of women in 2019-20.

The survey identified that one-in-eight female respondents (12.5%) had experienced both psychological and physical abuse since the age of 16, while just under one-in-20 (4.8%) of males had.

The proportion of adults experiencing multiple victimisation – where someone was a victim of at least two incidents – fell from 8.2% to 3.6% between 2008-09 and 2019-20, representing 57% of all SCJS crime in 2019-20.

One  in every 100 adults were victims of repeated incidents of violence, but their experiences accounted for almost two-thirds of violent crime in 2019-20.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said:

“This latest national survey underlines the findings from other official sources, such as recorded crime and hospital admissions data, that crime including violent crime, has fallen substantially over the last decade.

““This is down to the work of police, wider public services, the third sector and communities themselves – supported by Scotland’s firm focus on early intervention and prevention work, through the work of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit and Medics Against Violence and our No Knives Better Lives and Mentors in Violence Prevention programmes.

“However, the survey shows that both the falls in crime, and improved perceptions of safety have not been equally felt. Building on our progress in reducing violent crime, we are working to tackle violence against women and girls. This week I will urge Parliament to back our plans to give police and the courts new powers to remove suspected abusers from victims’ homes – adding to the world-leading domestic abuse laws we introduced a few years ago.  However, just as we have cut violent crime through a combination of legal changes and wider education and community interventions, so too it falls on many of us – politicians, parents, friends and work colleagues – to play our part in tackling violence against women, including the misogyny that frequently underlies it.

“While most people do not experience crime, the Scottish Government continues to strengthen how the justice system, wider public services and charities support those who do fall victim to crime. We have invested more than £75 million in support for victims over the past five years and we are increasing our resource funding by £1.5 million in next year’s justice budget to fund wide-ranging support to victims.  At the same time the Victims Taskforce I established in 2018 continues to drive forward system improvements to ensure that victims remain at the heart of Scotland’s justice system.”


The full statistical publication, drawn from interviews between April 2019 and March 2020, is available on the Scottish Government website.

The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey is one of the Scottish Government’s national surveys. It allows the people of Scotland to independently report their experiences and perceptions of crime, and influence the continue development and improvement of the Scottish Justice system.

The publication presents statistics on the extent of crime in Scotland, including crime that is not reported to the police, but is limited to crimes against adults resident in households, and also does not cover all crime types. Experiences of cyber crime and sexual offences are not included in the main estimates and are instead collected in the cyber crime and self-completion sections, respectively. Police recorded crime is a measure of those crimes reported to the police and recorded by them as a crime or offence.

Read further information about Scottish Government policies and initiatives to support victims and witnesses.


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