Public feeling safer after fall in crime

Matheson responds to latest Scottish Crime & Justice Survey.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson has welcomed National Statistics confirming that crime in Scotland has fallen by around a third in just under a decade while more people than ever feel safe in their neighbourhood.

The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2016-17, based on interviews with almost 5,600 adults about their experience of crime, whether or not reported to police, estimates there were around 712,000 crimes – 32% fewer than in 2008-09 – while property crime is down 34% and violence down 27% over the same period.

Mr Matheson pledged continued government investment in crime prevention measures and new violence research, as the Survey highlighted that a very small minority of adults continue to experience ‘repeat victimisation’ both from property crime and violent crime.

While the vast majority of adults (97.1%) were not victims of violent crime last year, 1.1% of adults suffered violence more than once (‘repeat victims’) accounting for two-thirds of these crimes, and 0.3% of adults experienced five or more violent crimes, experiencing over a quarter (28%) of all such incidents.

Mr Matheson said:

“Scotland’s firm focus on prevention, responsive policing and local partnerships to help individuals and communities keep themselves safe has had a positive impact on long-term crime trends and people’s feeling of safety, with recorded crime at a 43-year low.

“While this progress is cause for encouragement, it will never be an excuse for complacency. As well as continued government investment in policing and funding partners such as Neighbourhood Watch Scotland, Crimestoppers and the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, I have commissioned further research into those areas where violence persists.

“A better understanding of the nature and circumstances of violence can help improve how not only the justice system, but wider public services pre-empt and respond to the issue. We must keep identifying those areas where we can most effectively focus our collective efforts to achieve the greatest impact, ensuring all our communities benefit from falling crime.”

Among the 2016-17 Survey’s other findings:

  • Most adults in Scotland (77%) said they felt very or fairly safe walking alone in their local area after dark – the highest level ever measured by the SCJS – up from 74% two years before, and 66% in 2008-09
  • Just over two-thirds (68%) of crime was property-related, while a third was violent crime – of which 72% were cases of minor assault resulting in no or negligible injury
  • Most adults (86.6%) experienced no crime – with the proportion of Scots experiencing crime last year fewer than one-in-seven – down from around one-in-five in 2008-09
  • 11.5% of adults were estimated to have been a victim of property crime and 2.9% of adults a victim of violent crime in the previous year
  • The likelihood of being a victim of any crime was higher among younger adults (aged 16-24), those living in the most deprived areas and adults living in urban areas. This pattern was also found across both property and violent crime categories
  • The proportion of younger adults experiencing violent crime has more than halved from 12% in 2008-09 to 5.3% in 2016-17, although they remain the age group most likely to have been victims of violence
  • Most adults (58%) said the police were doing a good or excellent job in their local area, while public confidence across all six policing measures asked about in the survey is higher than in 2008-09, with two (ability to solve crime, and to catch criminals) up from 2014-15, and the remainder at the same levels as two years before


Read the National Statistics bulletin ‘Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2016/17: Main Findings bulletin.

The Justice Secretary has commissioned a detailed serious crime study, involving Scottish Government and Police Scotland analysts examining a large sample of crime records.  The review will focus on cases of attempted murder, serious assault and robbery – crimes which account for nearly four in five non-sexual violent crimes recorded by police.

The project will involve the review of two-thousand cases by analysts from both Scottish Government and Police Scotland, drawn from 2008-09 and 2017-18. It will examine the characteristics of victims and offenders, including their relationships, as well as the settings for these crimes, the injuries sustained and the role of weapons, alcohol or drugs. Reporting alongside the next annual Police Recorded Crime statistics towards the end of the year, the objective of the research ‘deep dive’ is to ensure that government, police, local authorities and other agencies have more detailed insight on where best to target resources.


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