Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2017-18

A National Statistics Publication for Scotland.

Most adults did not experience crime in 2017-18. The level of crime in Scotland and the likelihood of being a victim have both fallen since 2008-09, with the amount of overall crime also down by 16% since 2016-17.

Scotland’s Chief Statistician today released the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS) 2017-18: Main Findings.

The extent and prevalence of crime in Scotland in 2017/18

Most adults (87.5%) experienced no crime in 2017-18. The SCJS estimates that the proportion of adults experiencing crime has fallen from around one in five in 2008-09 (20.4%), to one in eight in 2017-18 (12.5%). The SCJS detected no statistically significant change in the likelihood of being a victim of crime between 2016-17 and 2017-18. In 2017-18, 10.8% of adults were estimated to have been a victim of property crime and 2.3% of adults a victim of violent crime, down from 18.0% and 4.1% in 2008-09 respectively.

Just under one in ten adults (9.0%) experienced one crime in 2017-18, while 3.4% of adults were the victim of multiple crimes, experiencing around three-fifths of all SCJS crime (57%). 2.6% of adults were repeat victims (of two or more) of property crimes, while 0.7% of adults were repeat victims of violent crimes. These repeat victims of violence are estimated to have experienced 59% of all violent crime in 2017-18.

The likelihood of being a victim of any crime in 2017-18 was higher for those living in the most deprived areas and adults in urban locations, whilst those aged 60 and over were least likely to be victims.

When we look at violent crime:

  • whilst the likelihood of experiencing crime in 2017-18 decreased with age, the proportion of adults aged 16-24 experiencing violent crime has more than halved from 12.0% in 2008-09 to 5.8% in 2017-18
  • the violent crime victimisation rate in 2017/18, for adults living in the 15% most deprived areas (3.8%), has not shown any significant change from 2008-09, whereas the rate has reduced for those living in the rest of Scotland (from 3.8% to 2.1% 

There were an estimated 602,000 crimes in 2017-18, down by more than two-fifths (42%) since the 1,045,000 crimes estimated in 2008-09, and by 16% since 2016-17.

Most crime (71%) was property-related. As in previous years, incidents of vandalism accounted for the largest proportion of property crime incidents (38%), followed by other household theft (including bicycle theft) (29%) and personal theft (22%). The remainder were incidents of motor vehicle related theft (6%) and housebreaking (6%).

Violent crime accounted for 29% of crime in 2017-18. 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 (62%). Other violent crimes comprised minor assault with injury (20%), attempted assault (7%), robbery (6%) and serious assault (5%).

Public perceptions of crime, the police and the justice system

The majority of adults, 57%, said that the police were doing a good or excellent job in their local area, similar to 2016-17 but down slightly from 61% in 2012-13.

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

Generally the public were fairly confident about the operation of the justice system. For example, 77% were confident that it allows those accused of crimes to get a fair trial regardless of who they are and 75% 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, 38% were confident that it gives sentences which fit the crime.

Just under three-quarters of respondents thought that the local crime rate had stayed the same or reduced in the two years prior to interview (73%), up from 65% in 2006 but down from 76% in 2016-17. More than three-quarters also said they felt very or fairly safe walking alone in their neighbourhood after dark (77%), up from 66% in 2008-09.

Findings from the SCJS self-completion modules

  • Illicit drug use: looking at comparable measures, where the types of drugs included in the survey are generally consistent over time, the proportion of adults reporting use of illicit drugs in the 12 months prior to interview has increased since from 6.0% in 2014-15 to 7.4% in 2017-18, but is unchanged since 2008-09.
  • Stalking and harassment: just over one-in-ten adults (11.1%) reported experiencing at least one type of stalking and harassment in the year prior to interview.
  • Partner abuse: overall, 15.6% of adults reported experiencing at least one form of partner abuse, either psychological or physical, since the age of 16. This is an increase on the 2014-15 figure (14.1%), but a decrease since 2008-09 (18.2%). However, since 2008-09 the proportion of respondents who reported experiencing any partner abuse in the 12 months prior to interview has fallen from 4.2% to 3.0%. Women were more likely than men to have experienced partner abuse, both in the 12 months prior to interview and since the age of 16.
  • Serious sexual assault: the latest results show there has been no change since 2008-09 in the proportion of respondents reporting experience of serious sexual assault, however since 2014-15 the proportion reporting experience of at least one type since the age of 16 has increased (from 2.7% to 3.6%).


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

The full statistical publication is available at:

This report covers interviews conducted between April 2017 to May 2018.

The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey is one of the Scottish Government’s flagship national surveys. 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. This year’s report also contains key findings on the more sensitive topics of drug use, partner abuse, and sexual victimisation and stalking. The latest results on illicit drug use relate to 2017-18 only, however results on the other self-completion modules cover two SCJS sweeps - 2016-17 and 2017-18 (i.e. 2016-18).

SCJS results at Police Division level are available biennially. Key results at Police Division level covering the period 2016-17 – 2017-18 will also be released alongside this report via the recently launched SCJS interactive data tool and within online data tables.

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 three National Indicators for Scotland's National Performance Framework - crime victimisation rate, public perception of crime rate in local area, and access to justice. 

Further information on Crime and Justice statistics within Scotland can be accessed at:

Official statistics are produced by professionally independent statistical staff – more information on the standards of official statistics in Scotland can be accessed at:



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