Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2019/20

A National Statistics Publication for Scotland.

Scotland’s Chief Statistician today released the main findings of the 2019/20 Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS).

The volume of crime in Scotland, including incidents not reported to the police, has fallen by 46% since 2008/09. Most adults did not experience crime in 2019/20. The proportion of adults experiencing crime has decreased from one-in-five to one-in-eight between 2008/09 and 2019/20.

The extent and prevalence of crime in Scotland in 2019/20

 There were an estimated 563,000 crimes in 2019/20, of which 369,000 (66%) were property crimes and 194,000 (34%) were violent crimes. Since 2008/09 property crime has almost halved (down 49%) whilst violent crime has fallen by 39% over the same time period. The 2019/20 SCJS found no statistically significant change in the level of crime (including both violent and property crime) since 2018/19.

Consistent with previous years, the majority of violent incidents were cases of minor assault resulting in no or negligible injury (73%), with instances of serious assault (6%) and robbery (5%) remaining relatively uncommon.

Most adults (88.1%) experienced no crime in 2019/20. 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 2019/20 (11.9%). The 2019/20 SCJS found no statistically significant change in the likelihood of being a victim of crime since 2018/19.

In 2019/20, 10.0% of adults were estimated to have been a victim of property crime and 2.5% of adults a victim of violent crime, down from 18.0% and 4.1% in 2008/09 respectively.

Victims of two or more incidents (3.6% of adults) accounted for over half (57%) of all crime in 2019/20. Repeat victims of violence (1.0% adults) are estimated to have experienced almost two-thirds (65%) of all violent crime in 2019/20.

Crime continues to be experienced disproportionately among some groups in the population. The likelihood of being a victim of any crime in 2019/20 was higher for those living in the 15% most deprived areas of Scotland, and urban locations, whilst those aged 60 and over were least likely to be victims.

The overall crime victimisation rate produced by the SCJS also enables a broad comparison with the equivalent rate in England and Wales. 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.

 Public perceptions of the police, the justice system and crime in Scotland

 The majority of adults (55%) said the police in their local area do an excellent or good job. This figure has been stable in the last few years, but has fallen from 61% in 2012/13 (when the question was first asked). Victims of crime and those living in the 15% most deprived areas were less likely to feel this way about the police than comparator groups.

The survey also looks at attitudes towards and experiences of more specific elements of policing, covering a variety of issues. The 2019/20 results show that adults were generally confident in the ability of the local police to take forward different aspects of police activity covered in the survey.

Generally the public were fairly confident about the operation of the justice system in Scotland. For example, three-quarters of adults were confident that it allows those accused of crimes to get a fair trial regardless of who they are and that it makes sure everyone has access to the justice system if they need it (77% and 75%, respectively). However, adults were less confident on other related measures, for example, 35% were confident that it gives sentences which fit the crime, with 60% saying they were not confident.

 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 69% in 2008/09 and unchanged from 2018/19. More than three-quarters (77%) said they felt very or fairly safe walking alone in their neighbourhood after dark, up from 66% in 2008/09.

Despite general improvements in perceptions of crime and feelings of safety since 2008/09, differences remain in the population. For example, women, people in deprived areas and victims of crime were less likely to feel safe, more likely to be worried about specific types of crime, and more likely to think they would experience crime in the coming year.

Findings from the SCJS self-completion modules

 The 2019/20 SCJS report also contains key findings on each of the self-completion topics, with the latest results covering 2018/19 and 2019/20 combined.

 Illicit drug use: 13.5% of adults reported taking any of the drugs listed in the SCJS in the 12 months prior to interview. This has increased from 9.5% in 2017/18.

      • Stalking and harassment: Almost one-in-eight adults (11.8%) experienced at least one type of stalking and harassment in the year prior to interview, unchanged from 2016/18.
      • Partner abuse: Overall, 16.5% of adults said they experienced at least one form of partner abuse, either psychological or physical, since the age of 16. This is a decrease since 2008/09 (18.2%), but unchanged since 2016/18 (15.6%).

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.

      • Sexual victimisation: The latest results show that whilst there has been no change since 2008/09 in the proportion of adults experiencing serious, or less serious, sexual assault since the age of 16, there had been some increases in the proportion of adults experiencing certain types of sexual victimisation. For example, since 2008/09 there has been an increase in the proportion of adults experiencing attempted forced sexual intercourse (from 1.5% to 2.0%), attempted other forced sexual activity (from 0.7% to 1.3%), and unwanted sexual touching (from 4.8% to 7.4%) since the age of 16.


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 on the Scottish Government website.

This report covers 5,568 interviews conducted between April 2019 and March 2020.

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

The publication presents statistics on the extent 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. Experiences of sexual offences are not included in the main estimates and are instead collected in the self-completion section. Police recorded crime is a measure of those crimes reported to the police and recorded by them as a crime or offence.

This year’s report contains key findings on the more sensitive topics of drug use, partner abuse, sexual victimisation, and stalking and harassment. These results have been published biennially since the 2017/18 SCJS, with two years of data combined to carry out the analysis. The latest figures cover 2018/19 and 2019/20 combined.

SCJS results at Police Division level are available biennially. Key results at Police Division level covering the period 2018/19-2019/20 are released alongside this report via the SCJS interactive data tool and within online data tables.

More information about the survey, including the online data tables for 2019/20 results are  available on the Scottish Government website.

Further breakdowns for some smaller population groups are also being published on perception of crime in the local area from the Scottish Survey Core Questions, which combines data from the three large Scottish Government household surveys. These breakdowns are available on the Scottish Survey Core Questions webpage.

As with all surveys, SCJS results are 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, perceptions of local crime rate, and access to justice.

Official statistics are produced by professionally independent statistical staff. Further information on Crime and Justice statistics within Scotland or the standards of official statistics in Scotland can be found on the Scottish Government website.


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