Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2016/17

A National Statistics Publication for Scotland.

Most adults did not experience crime in 2016/17. The overall level of crime in Scotland and the likelihood of being a victim have both fallen since 2008/09, however no change was detected from 2014/15.

Scotland’s Chief Statistician today released the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS) 2016-17: Main Findings. The figures show that:

The extent and prevalence of crime in Scotland in 2016/17

There were an estimated 712,000 crimes in 2016/17, down by around a third (32 per cent) since the 1,045,000 crimes estimated in 2008/09. No change has been detected since 2014/15 – the apparent increase from 688,000 incidents in 2014/15 is not statistically significant.

Just over two-thirds of crime (68 per cent) was property-related. As in previous years, incidents of vandalism accounted for the largest proportion of property crime incidents (34 per cent), followed by other household theft (including bicycle theft) (27 per cent) and personal theft (26 per cent). The remainder were incidents of motor vehicle related theft (8 per cent) and housebreaking (5 per cent).

Around a third of all crime was violent crime. Consistent with previous SCJS findings, the majority of violent crime incidents in 2016/17 were cases of minor assault resulting in no or negligible injury (72 per cent). Other violent crimes comprised minor assault with injury (13 per cent), serious assault (7 per cent), attempted assault (4 per cent) and robbery (3 per cent).

Most adults (86.6 per cent) experienced no crime in 2016/17. The SCJS estimates that the proportion of adults experiencing crime has fallen from around one in five in 2008/09 (20.4 per cent), to fewer than one in seven in 2016/17 (13.4 per cent). The SCJS detected no statistically significant change in the likelihood of being a victim of crime between 2014/15 and 2016/17. In 2016/17, 11.5 per cent of adults were estimated to have been a victim of property crime and 2.9 per cent of adults a victim of violent crime.

Around one-in-eleven adults (9.2 per cent) experienced one crime in 2016/17, while 4.3 per cent of adults were the victim of multiple crimes, experiencing just over three fifths of all SCJS crime (61 per cent). 3.3 per cent of adults were repeat victims (of two or more) of property crimes, while 1.1 per cent of adults were repeat victims of violent crimes. These repeat victims of violence are estimated to have experienced two-thirds of all violent crime in 2016/17.

The likelihood of being a victim of any crime in 2016/17 was higher amongst 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.

When we look at violent crime:

  • The proportion of adults aged 16-24 experiencing violent crime has more than halved from 12.0 per cent in 2008/09 to 5.3 per cent in 2016/17, however they remained the age group most likely to have been victims of violence in 2016/17.
  • The violent crime victimisation rate in 2016/17, for adults living in the 15 per cent most deprived areas (4.8%), had not shown any significant change from 2008/09, whereas the rate has reduced for those living in the rest of Scotland (from 3.8 per cent to 2.5 per cent).

Public Perceptions of Crime, the Police and the Justice System

The majority of adults, 58 per cent, said that the police were doing a good or excellent job in their local area, similar to 2014/15 but this had decreased from 61 per cent in 2012/13.

The majority of adults were also very or fairly confident in their local police force across the six measures of confidence asked about in this survey. Whilst generally the majority of adults in all population sub-groups were also confident in the police, the level of confidence was lower on some measures amongst victims of crime, those living in deprived areas and those in rural locations.

Generally the public were fairly confident about the operation of the justice system across a range of measures, for example, 78 per cent were confident that it allows those accused of crimes to get a fair trial regardless of who they are and 75 per cent were confident that it makes sure everyone has access to the justice system if they need it. However, adults were less confident on other measures, for example, 39 per cent were confident that it gives punishments which fit the crime.

Three quarters of respondents thought that the local crime rate had stayed the same or reduced (76 per cent), unchanged from 2014/15, but up from 65 per cent in 2006. More than three-quarters also said they felt very or fairly safe walking alone in their neighbourhood after dark (77 per cent), up from 74 per cent in 2014/15 and 66 per cent in 2008/09.


The figures released today were produced in accordance with professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

Read the full statistical publication.

This report covers interviews collected between April 2016 to May 2017.

The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey is one of the Scottish Government’s flagship national surveys delivering robust evidence for the “Safer and Stronger” Strategic Objective. The survey allows the people of Scotland to independently report their experiences and perceptions of crime, and thus influence the continued development and improvement of the Scottish Justice system.

The publication presents statistics on the level of crime in Scotland, importantly 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. Police recorded crime is a measure of those crimes reported to the police and recorded by them as a crime or offence.

The SCJS also provides a range of additional information, including details of adults’ perception of crime, the characteristics of crime, on victims, offenders, policing and the justice system.

As with all surveys, SCJS results are always estimates, not precise figures. Results are only described as ‘increases’ or ‘decreases’ where statistical tests identify statistically significant differences. Where they do not detect significant change, results are reported as showing ‘no change’- even if the estimate from one year appears greater or smaller than the comparator year. Importantly, this does not mean there has definitely been no change, but that the sample is not large enough to confidently detect any change that has or has not occurred. These issues are common to all population surveys, particularly on issues that affect only a minority of people. Often, where changes and trends emerge, they can be more easily detected over longer time periods, as cumulative changes build year-on-year.

The SCJS is the data source for two National Indicators for Scotland's National Performance Framework - crime victimisation rate and public perception of general crime rate in local area.

Read more about Crime and Justice statistics within Scotland.

Official statistics are produced by professionally independent statistical staff; read further information on the standards of official statistics in Scotland.


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